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Bigard came from a Creole family and had a number of musical relatives; his cousins were Natty Dominique and Armand J. Piron . He received his first clarinet lessons from Lorenzo Tio jr. , one of the most important clarinetists of the early years of New Orleans Jazz . As a teenager, he played in the famous Tom Anderson's, a cabaret that featured a number of leading black jazz musicians in the fading days of Storyville . As a clarinetist and tenor saxophonist he played with Albert Nicholas in 1922 . After briefly working at Octave Gaspard, Amos White and Luis Russell , he returned to Nicholas and went with him to Chicago in 1924 .
In 1925 Bigard got an engagement with King Oliver , who appeared in the Plantation Cafe . After a few short stops - u. a. in the band of Luis Russell, who played "The Nest" in the legendary Harlem breakfast bar - in January 1928 he switched to the Duke Ellington orchestra . In the 14 years of his membership in this formation he became world-famous and contributed significantly to the typical style of the Ellington Orchestra through his way of playing the clarinet . Titles like " Mood Indigo ", which he wrote with Mitchell Parish , were his, even if this was not always recorded on the records. The simple basic motif on which Ellington's “ C Jam Blues ” (1942) is based is also attributed to him. In 1937 the version of the Ellington classic " Caravan ", recorded under his name, hit the charts and appeared in 1955 on The Duke's Men .
At the end of 1940 he took part in the legendary concert in Fargo, North Dakota . In 1942, after leaving the Ellington Orchestra, he moved to Los Angeles and worked for a time with his own band, with which he accompanied Etta Jones on her recordings for Black & White Records . He had a hit in the "Harlem Hit Parade" (the forerunner of the R&B charts) in 1942 with "C Blues". From the mid-1940s he played with Kid Ory again and again, only to work in the following years mainly in Louis Armstrong's various all-star groups . In 1955 he left Armstrong's group in order to occasionally perform with other jazz musicians and make recordings. In 1958/59 he led a band with Cozy Cole , with which he a. a. performed in Las Vegas . In 1961 he returned briefly to Armstrong; from 1962 Bigard withdrew into private life, but still appeared occasionally with Earl Hines , Muggsy Spanier , Ben Pollack and Rex Stewart . In 1971 he went on a college tour with Art Hodes , Wild Bill Davison and Eddie Condon . In the mid-1970s he was a guest. a. at the festivals of Pescara, San Sebastian, Bordeaux and Newport , most recently at the Nice Jazz Festival in 1979.
In 1986 his autobiography With Louis and the Duke was published .
- Barney Bigard 1944 ( Classics , 1944) with Georgie Auld , Leonard Feather , Nappy Lamare , Remo Palmieri , Nick Fatool , Shelly Manne
- Barney Bigard 1944–1945 (Classics, 1944/45) with Vic Dickenson , Johnny Guarnieri Chuck Wayne , Red Callender , Cozy Cole
- Bucket's Got a Hole in It (Delmark, 1968) with George Brunis , Art Hodes
- Leonard Feather , Ira Gitler : The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press, New York 1999, ISBN 0-19-532000-X .
- James Lincoln Collier : Duke Ellington . Ullstein, Berlin 1999.
- Carlo Bohländer , Karl Heinz Holler, Christian Pfarr: Reclam's Jazz Guide . 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-15-010355-X .
- Date of death according to Bohländer u. a. Reclams Jazzführer 1989, Allmusic Guide
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Bigard, Leonard Albany (real name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||American clarinetist|
|DATE OF BIRTH||March 3, 1906|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||New Orleans|
|DATE OF DEATH||June 27, 1980|
|Place of death||Culver City|