Friday, November 30, 2012

RIP, Don Redman (1900-1964)

Don Redman, the first great arranger in jazz history, died on November 30, 1964, in New York City.  He was 64 years old.

Redman joined joined the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1923, playing clarinet and saxophone, but he soon began writing arrangements and did much to formulate the sound that was to become big band swing.

Redman formed his own band in 1931, which he led until 1940.

In his book, The 101 Best Jazz Albums, Len Lyons recommends the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra's album Developing an American Orchestra 1923-1927 (Smithsonian Collection). Unfortunately, that album is only available in vinyl. Jim Determan, who has updated the Lyons list, recommends as an alternative A Study in Frustration: The Fletcher Henderson Story (Columbia), which is available from

The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra plays one of Redman's arrangements, "Rocky Mountain Blues," here: