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blankAs a young man in New Orleans, Barney Bigard (March 3, 1906 – June 27, 1980) took clarinet lessons with Lorenzo Tio Jr. and Papa Tio. He played the instrument in parades in New Orleans, but first became known as a tenor-saxophonist.

After working with several groups in New Orleans, Bigard moved to Chicago where he played with King Oliver from 1925 until 1927. He would also record with Jelly Roll MortonJohnny Dodds and Louis Armstrong while in the Windy City.Barney-Bigard

In 1927, Bigard toured with Oliver, but quit shortly afterwards and played for a little with the Charles Elgar’s Creole Orchestra and Luis Russell Orchestra. Bigard found his niche with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, where he almost exclusively played clarinet. Between 1927 and 1942 he was featured on many of Ellington‘s classic recordings, including “Mood Indigo”which Bigard co-composed.

When he grew tired of touring and quit the band in 1942, Bigard played with Freddie Slack’s big band, and Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra. He also appeared in the 1946 film “New Orleans.” In 1947, Bigard joined the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, and constantly toured the world with the group until 1955, when he left the band. He later re-joined the band from 1960-61. He spent 1958-59 with Cozy Cole’s big band.

Bigard was semi-retired after 1962, but still played now and then, recording with Earl Hines, and playing in a Johnny St. Cyr’s Dixieland band called the Young Men from New Orleans at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

sss band or session leader

Barney Bigard and his Jazzopators Barney Bigard and his Orchestra
Barney Bigard Sextet Barney Bigard Trio
Barney Bigard Quintet


Title Director Year
Black And Tan Fantasy Dudley Murphy 1929
Symphony In Black Fred Waller 1935
Hot Chocolate Josef Berne 1941
New Orleans Arthur Lubin 1947
St. Louis Blues Allen Reisner 1958


With Louis And The Duke by Barney Bigard, edited by Barry Martyn, Oxford University Press, 1985


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