Along with fellow arranger John Nesbitt, Don Redman helped make McKinney's Cotton Pickers one of the key outfits during jazz's transition from the somewhat rough-hewn New Orleans-based style of the '20s to the slicker big band sound of the '30s. Besides being a fine reeds player and singer, his sophisticated yet swinging arranging style put him in the premier league of the music's first important architects. Deftly weaving the disparate tonal strands of the band, he provided plenty of inspired backdrops for such McKinney stars as trombonist Claude Jones, trumpeters Joe Thomas and Rex Stewart, alto saxophonist and arranger Benny Carter, and tenor sax giant Coleman Hawkins. Redman's humor was also an asset to the band, especially as heard on his vocal turns: "It's Tight Like That" and "For or Five Times." That's not to mention such classic instrumentals as "Milenberg Joys" and "Zonky." This fine McKinney's Cotton Pickers disc includes it all, plus a bevy of other top-notch selections. A definite qualifier for first-disc choice.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook