Donald Matthew Redman (July 29, 1900 – November 30, 1964) was an American jazz musician, arranger, bandleader and composer.
Redman was announced as a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame on May 6, 2009.
Redman was born in Piedmont, West Virginia. His father was a music teacher, his mother was a singer. Don began playing the trumpet at the age of 3, joined his first band at 6 and by age 12 he was proficient on all wind instruments ranging from trumpet to oboe as well as piano. He studied at Storer's College in Harper's Ferry and at the Boston Conservatory, then joined Billy Page's Broadway Syncopaters in New York City.
(He was the uncle of saxophonist Dewey Redman, and thus great-uncle of saxophonist Joshua Redman and trumpeter Carlos Redman.)
In 1923 Don Redman joined the Fletcher Henderson orchestra, mostly playing clarinet and saxophones. He soon began writing arrangements, and Redman did much to formulate the sound that was to become big band Swing. (It is significant to note that with a few exceptions, Henderson did not start arranging until the mid-1930s. Redman did the bulk of arrangements (through 1927) and after he left, Benny Carter took over arranging for the Henderson band.)
His importance in the formulation of arranged hot jazz can not be overstated; a chief trademark of Redman's arrangements was that he harmonized melody lines and pseudo-solos within separate sections; for example, clarinet, sax, or brass trios. He played these sections off each other, having one section punctuate the figures of another, or moving the melody around different orchestral sections and soloists. His use of this technique was sophisticated, highly innovative, and formed the basis of much big band jazz writing in the following decades.
In 1927 Jean Goldkette convinced Redman to join the Detroit, Michigan-based band McKinney's Cotton Pickers as their musical director and leader. He was responsible for their great success and arranged over half of their music (splitting the arranging duties with John Nesbitt through 1931). Redman was occasionally featured as their vocalist, displaying a charming, humorous vocal style.
Redman then formed his own band in 1931 (featuring, for a time, Fletcher Henderson's younger brother Horace on piano), which got a residency at the famous Manhattan jazz club Connie's Inn. Redman's band got a recording contract with Brunswick Records and a series of radio broadcasts. Redman and his orchestra also provided music for the animated short I Heard, part of the Betty Boop series produced by Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount. Redman composed original music for the short, which was released on September 1, 1933.
The Brunswick records Redman made between 1931-1934 were some of the most complex pre-swing hot jazz arrangements of popular tunes. Redman's band didn't rely on just a driving rhythm or great soloists, but it had an overall level of arranging sophistication that's unlike anyone else of the period.
Notable musicians in Redman's band included Sidney De Paris, trumpet, Edward Inge, clarinet, and singer Harlan Lattimore, who was known as "The Colored Bing Crosby". On the side Redman also did arrangements for other band leaders and musicians, including Paul Whiteman, Isham Jones, and Bing Crosby.
In 1933, his band made a Vitaphone short film for Warner Bros. which is available as of 2006 on the DVD of the Busby Berkeley feature film Dames.
Redman recorded for Brunswick through 1934. He did a number of sides for ARC in 1936 (issued on their Vocalion, Perfect, Melotone, etc.) and in 1937, he pioneered a series of swing re-arrangements of old classic pop tunes for the Variety label. His use of a swinging vocal group (called "The Swing Choir") was very modern and even today, a bit unusual, with Redman's sophisticated counter-point melodies. He signed with Bluebird in 1938 and recorded with them until 1940, when he disbanded.
In 1940 Redman disbanded his orchestra, and concentrated on freelance work writing arrangements. Some of his arrangements became hits for Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, and Harry James. He appeared on Uptown Jubilee on the CBS Television network for the 1949 season. In the 1950s he was music director for singer Pearl Bailey.
In the early 1960s he played piano for the Georgia Minstrels Concert and soprano sax with Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle's band.
Don Redman died in New York City on November 30, 1964.
This is from: http://www.redhotjazz.com/cotton.html
Don Redman is one of the first great jazz arrangers and was a pivotal figure in the development of Swing and the Big Band style Jazz. Redman was a childhood prodigy who played many instruments and began arranging music while still in high school. In 1920 he graduated from Storer College in West Virginia and joined Billy Paige's Broadway Syncopators, where he played reed instruments and did some arranging. In 1923 he met Fletcher Henderson and recorded with him on several dates. When Henderson started his own orchestra in 1924 Redman joined as an arranger and reed player. He quit the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1927 and took a job with William McKinney's Cotton Pickers as musical director. He also recorded and arranged for Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five in 1928. He left McKinney's Cotton Pickers in 1931 to form his own orchestra which he led until 1940, but also did arrangements for Paul Whiteman and Ben Pollack among others. During the 1940s Redman worked for several big bands including Count Basie and Jimmy Dorsey while keeping busy with freelance arranging jobs. In the 1950s he was the musical director of Pearl Bailey's band.
And from redhotjazz, on McKinney's Cotton Pickers:William McKinney, showman-drummer, formed his Cotton Pickers in Springfield, Ohio in 1922, but it was not until the summer of 1928 that they commenced their short but illustrious recording career for Victor. In the autumn of 1931 Don Redman, who did most of the arrangements, took a band of his own, including in it several of the Cotton Pickers. The Cotton Pickers were based originally in the Greystone Ballroom in Detroit, opposite Jean Goldkette's excellent White orchestra, but by the early part of 1929 we find them in Harlem at various nightspots. Their personnel varied as any personnel in a band this size, but in it's ranks were at one time such brilliant stars of the Harlem Jazz firmament as Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Lonnie Johnson, James P. Johnson, Joe Smith, Ed Cuffee, Claude Jones and Fats Waller. The original policy of the band was to play hot numbers, many of which were composed by Redman and/or other musicians in the band, but once in New York, with a recording contract from Victor that was demanding of all its artists a more commerical approach to work, the Cotton Pickers included a repertoire of the better popular hits of the day, giving them a rich and rare treatment, with warm section work and beautifully executed soli . Although the brass bass is supposed to be heavier than a string bass, in Billy Taylor's hands it is a living thing, giving adequate support to Wilborn's lively banjo and Austin's crisp drumming.
Sooooo, here' a list of Redman's band, and his work with other groups, most notably McKinney's Cotton Pickers...............
'Deed I Do-DR and his Orch. 12-6-1938
About Rip Van Winkle-DR and his Orch. 1-17-1940
After All, You're All I'm After v=George Bias-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 11-5-1930
After Sundown-DR and his Orch. 11-14-1933
Ain't I Good To You-DR and his Orch. 5-18-1939
Ain't I The Lucky One? v=Harlan Lattimore DR and his Orch 10-6-1932
Auld Lang Syne-DR and his Orch 6-12-1938
Baby won't you please come home v= george thomas- McKinney's Cotton Pickers 7-28-1930
Baby won't you please come home-DR and his Orch 5-18-1939
Beedle um bum-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 4-9-1929
Blues Sure Have Got Me-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 7-29-1930
Bugle Call Rag-DR and his Orch 9-30-1936
Chant Of The Weed (2)-DR and his Orch 9-24-1931
Chant Of The Weed-DR and his Orch 9-24-1931
Cherry v=jean napier-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 7-12-1928
Chew-Chew-Chew (Your Bubble Gum).-DR and his Orch 5-18-1939
Christopher Columbus (A rhythm cocktail)-DR and his Orch 4-3-1936
Class Will Tell-DR and his Orch 3-23-1939
Come A Little Closer-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 11-18-1930
Cotton picker's scat v=george thomas-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 7-31-1930
Do something-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 4-9-1929
Do you believe in love at first sight-McKinney's Cotton Pickers 9-8-1931
Doin' The New Low-Down (2)-DR and his Orch 12-29-1932 v=mills bros/cab calloway
Doin' The New Low-Down-DR and his Orch 12-29-1932 o
Doin' What I Please-DR and his Orch bill robinson
Down Home Rag-DR and his Orch 12-6-1938
Exactly Like You-DR and his Orch 5-28-1930
Four or Five Times -McKinney's Cotton Pickers 7-11-1928The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring-DR and his Orch 3-23-1939