Barney played in several street parades whilst trying out various careers
before changing to tenor sax and settling down to full time band playing in
1922. He spent 3 more years in New Orleans playing with various bands
including Gustavo Gaspard and with his friend Albert Nicholas at Tom
Anderson's Cafe.

In 1925 Barney and Albert Nicholas
moved to Chicago to join King Olivers Dixie Syncopators. One of the
greatest bands of the mid 20s, including such musicians as Paul Barbarin,
Bud Scott and Darnell Howard. Playing mostly saxes until this time, he was
enticed into the band when Oliver provided him with a brand new Albert
system clarinet along with the job. When most clarinetists swapped the
older style instruments for the new Boehm fingering variety, Barney remained
one of the few that still favoured his Albert system.
The band recorded many tracks for Vocalion and Brunswick and played at the
Plantation Cafe on east 35th street until it was destroyed by fire in 1927.
Oliver moved the outfit to New York, but when the band was cheated out of
the little money they made and Olivers dental problems became progressively
worse, it was disbanded, leaving Louis Russell, one of the band members, to
form a new band out of the remaining musicians. Whilst in Chicago, Barney
made recordings with Jelly Roll Morton, Johnny Dodds and Louis Armstrong and
also took a break from Oliver's band to play with Charles Elgar's Creole

in 1927 Sidney Bechet left the Duke Ellington Orchestra and was replaced by
Barney Bigard. He stayed there for 15 years, recording some of the most
famous tracks in jazz history and also helped to compose such classics as
Mood Indigo, one of Ellington's biggest hits. Barney played clarinet almost
exclusively during his time with Ellington and his partnership with
saxophonist Johnny Hodges produced some legendary performances. Some of
the most notable recordings he made during this time were Across The Track
Blues, Barney Going Easy and, Barney's own favourite, Clarinet Lament.

Life with a constantly touring band became too much for Barney and in 1942
he left Ellington's band, moved to Los Angeles and began recording music for
sound tracks. He then played for a short time with Freddie Slack's Big
Band, Kid Ory's Creole Band and took the time to enjoy setting up his own
combo. In 1946 he featured in the film New Orleans along with Billie
Holliday and Louis Armstrong, a very dated film, which depicts all the black
artists in very subservient rolls.
After that he joined Armstrongs All-star band. He stayed with this band
right through until 1955, except for a short break in 1952. During these
years Barney was back on the road again, traveling abroad to Europe and
Japan and although he was very happy there, he left to take a break from
touring and the constant drinking, always a part of the touring
life, but which was starting to affect his playing.

Barney settled back in l.A, running his own bands both there and in Los
Vagus and appeared in the film St Louis blues. In 57.He enjoyed a short
spell with Cozy Cole from November 58 to March 59 and also joined up with Ben
Pollack for a short spell.
In 1960 he rejoined Louis Armstrong for one last year in May 1960. After
1961 he stopped touring quite as much Playing dates with his own bands and
joining musicians such as Muggsy Spanier and Red Stuart. appearing with
Johnny St. Cyr's Young Men from New Orleans band at Dixieland in Los
Angeles. During this time he made several recordings with Art Hodes and
Earl Hines among others and joined in Louis Armstrong's 70th birthday
concert in 1970.

During the 1970s, Barney was still keeping tour dates, including a visit
back to his home town of New Orleans in 72 and a memorable trip to
Switzerland in 75. He played with many bands over this ten year period
among whom were Art Hodes and Eddie Condon.

Barney Bigard died on June 27th 1980 in Culver City, California.
His Autobiography, "With Louis and the Duke", was published in 1985,
CO-written with Barry Martyn and has a forward by Earl Hines.

With Louis and the Duke.
ISBN 0-19-520637-1 / 0195206371

New Orleans. 1946
St Louis Blues. 1957.
Barney Bigard. (French TV biography) 1975.

Ellington Small Group Tracks. (336-39) reissued on Epic.
The Duke's Men. Columbia, now on CD.
That Old Feeling, with Bobby Hacket, (38)
The Ellington Units, Bluebird, now on cd.
Fantasy For Clarinet And Strings, (44) issued as a double 78 set signed by
Live concert with Claude Luter, (60) in Paris.
Bucket's Got A Hole In It, with Art Hodes, (68) on Delmark.
Jazz Hall Of Fame, LP with a velvet sleeve, Liberty Records.
Barney Bigard And The Legends Of Jazz, (74) on Crescent Jazz.
Giants In Nice, with Earl Hines, (74) RCA.
The Pelican Trio, (76) Jazzology.
Clarinet Gumbo, (78) on RCA.
V.1 The Complete Small Group Sessions, With Johnny Hodges on CD, Blue Moon.
Barney's Bounce, CD, Living Eara.
BBB & Co, with Benny Carter and Ben Webster on CD (93) , Org. Jazz Classics.
Bigard 44-46, with Kid Ory on CD, (95) American Music.
Clarinet Lament, CD, (96) Topaz.
Bigard 1944, CD, (97_ Classics.
An Introduction To Barney Bigard, CD, (00) Best Of Jazz.
Barney Bigard Story, CD, (00) Jazz Archives.

Back to my Bio Page.
Barney Bigard

Barney Bigard (Albany Leon) was born in Villere Street, New Orleans on March 3rd 1906. Not at first a keen musician, Barney was encouraged by his musical family to begin learning the clarinet at age 7.  His teachers were Lorenzo Tio and Pappa Tio, probably the best in New Orleans at that time.