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Discerning urban jazz fans searching for something new to get jazzed and groove about don’t need to have A Vicarious Experience to make it happen—they just need to get hip to the melodic and cool old school soul meets contemporary funk of veteran saxophonist Reggie Codrington. While the Fayetteville, North Carolina native is new on many people’s radars, he’s actually been performing and recording since the early 90s and has eight previous CDs, several under the name Reggie C; the most recent of these are Sunny Days (2008),Vision of Dreams (2010), Christmas With Pops (2009) and Journey Back Home (2005), which was produced by Phil Davis, who has worked with Stanley Clarke, George Duke and Al Jarreau, among many others.
His latest project, which is produced by and features the tenacious bass playing of Brian Morgan (whose many credits include George Benson), A Vicarious Experience finds Codrington—whose primary voice is the curved soprano sax--in a romantic, optimistic mood, using the changing vibes of the songs (and the listener’s imagination) to chronicle the ups, downs, excitement and challenges of a romantic relationship from track to track. While many artists cite their parents as prime influences on their careers, Codrington takes that one step further, inviting his father Ray—who helped Codrington develop his skills and learn improvisation—to play trumpet throughout the recording.
“When I make a record, I always want to have a warm sound with harmonies,” he says, “and in this case that means having dad play a lot of horn parts and percussion. When we were making the album, I found myself in a 70s and 80s type groove, inspired by everyone from De La Soul funk rhythms to Sade and Parliament. I grew up listening to old school R&B/funk so that’s a pretty natural influence for me. The process began with Brian sending me some great tracks and me putting melodies to them, then arranging harmonies and atmospheres around my lead sax. The romantic story thread emerged from the emotions I was experiencing at the time with the lady I was dating. I thought it might be fun to invite people into my musical heart this way.”
Like a lot of veteran artists who have taken many recordings to break through, Codrington has survived his share of disappointments in the music industry, even as he’s made a living performing for many years. That commitment to overcoming obstacles stems from the difficulties in his childhood dealing with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (ACP), a chronic condition that affects muscle coordination and depth perception. Receiving a curved soprano sax on his 18th birthday led to a major transformation, offering a comfortable way to play that he had not previously experienced. “Something magical happened, and I knew I had found my niche,” he says. “I fell in love.”
Grover Washington Jr., Kim Waters, Gerald Albright, Ray Codrington Sr.