Darnell played violin in W. C. Handy's Orchestra in Memphis and appeared on his first New  York recordings in 1917. in 1921 he returned to Chicago where he set up his own band and  played with Junie Cobb and his former tutor Charlie Elgar at the Dreamland Ballroom. He  toured Europe in 1923 with James P. Johnson's Plantation Days Review Band and then again  in 24 with The Singing Syncopators.
In the late 20s, Darnell returned to Chicago, playing with many bands including Carroll  Dickerson's and Dave Peyton's bands. Most notable during this time was his work with King  Oliver's Dixie Syncopators where he played alongside musicians such as Albert Nicholas and  Barney Bigard. In the mid 20s Darnell toured Asia with Teddy Weatherford with a memorable  visit to Shanghai. On his return, he rejoined many of his former bands and set up his own  quartet, playing at the Club Arlington where he introduced a first time band member, 17  year old Sid Catlett.

In 1928 he spent a year with Jimmy Wade's Dixielanders and then another year with his old  friend Dave Peyton. After a short period with Jerome Carrington, Darnell accepted a place  in Earl Hine's Big Band in 1931, where he stayed for 6 years. He played mostly sax and  violin during this time, and when their venue at the Grand Terrace was closed for the  summer, he took a small group from the Hine's band on tour with him. On leaving Earl  Hine's band, he played with Fletcher Henderson and Coleman Hawkins before setting up his  own band in 1943. For a short time in the early 40s, Darnell tired of the constant  traveling and took some time out, making a living as a shop keeper. 45 saw him make a trip  to California where he played and recorded with Kid Ory's band, returning to Chicago late  in the year to play, not exclusively, with Doc Evans. He moved out to California in 1948  to join Muggsy Spanier, staying with the band for 5 years. Restless again, Darnell left  Spanier and spent 2 years playing with many different leaders including Bob Scoby and  Jimmy Archey.

Moving to San Francisco in 1955, Darnell became part of Earl Hines Dixieland Band, playing  at the hangover club, where he stayed for 7 years, leaving the band only due to illness.  on his recovery, he
recorded 2 excellent albums with Don Ewell before working with Elmer Snowden and Burt  Bales. In 1966 he made his last tour of Europe with The New Orleans All-Stars, but he  became ill with a brain tumor on his return to America. Darnell died on 2nd September  1966.

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Darnell Howard was born on 25th July 1895 in Chicago Illinois. His parents were both  musicians, so were keen to start him on the violin at age 7, encouraging him to add  clarinet and saxophone shortly after. He began playing professionally whilst still at  school, joining John H. Wickcliffe's Ginger Orchestra in 1913 for 3 years. By this time he was developing his own style of playing, displaying a very sweet tone, often compared to  that of Jimmy Noone.
Darnell Howard