Considered one of the greatest arrangers of all-time, Van Alexander worked with a variety of orchestras during the big band era. One of his most successful arrangements was the 1938 Chick Webb hit ''A-Tisket, A-Tasket,'' a song he co-wrote with vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. Alexander left Webb that same year to form his own orchestra, an outfit considered by critics as good but not spectacular. His group made several recordings for Bluebird.
In 1942 Alexander was hired as an arranger by Kay Kyser. He continued, though, to simultaneously lead his own orchestra until 1944, when it finally dissolved. During the remainder of the decade he worked for both Tommy Tucker and Larry Clinton. In the 1950s he recorded several albums under his own name, backed by studio orchestras. Alexander went on to become a highly successful composer and arranger in the film and television industry.