Don Redman was one of the greatest jazz arrangers of his time. He was also an influential figure in the development of Swing and the Big Band Style. Redman performed the first recorded scat vocals while a member of Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra. Scat singing is an improvised vocal instrumentation composed of nonsense syllables. Don Redman scatted a few bars of “My Papa Doesn’t Two-Time No Time.
As a young boy, Redman was a child musical prodigy and could play numerous instruments. After completing high school, he went on to attend Storer College in West Virginia where joined the Billy Paige’s Broadway Syncopators and did some arranging.
He met Fletcher Henderson in 1923 and recorded with him on several occasions. He joined Henderson’s Orchestra and worked as an arranger and reed player. 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.
By the 1940s Redman was working for several big bands including Count Basie and Jimmy Dorsey. He later worked as the musical director of Pearl Bailey’s Band.