A music fan - Barney Bigard

by Jerry Weil
(St. Louis, MO)

How can a web site call itself Clarinet Now, or anything else with the word clarinet in its name, without ever once mentioning, anywhere on your site, the name of the most prolific, profound, proficient and soulful clarinet players of all time, who played for Duke Ellington many years? Barney(Albany)Bigard.


Hello Jerry,

If you had any idea of all of the thoughts and players and techniques I’d like to share on Clarinet-Now.com, I probably would have covered Mr. Bigard by now. So, thanks for the prompt on the legendary Barney Bigard. I’m going to post a few videos of him below with the captions.

Rose Room Barney Bigard 1968

Barney Bigard, (1906-1980) was a famous American jazz clarinetist .Bigard was born in New Orleans and studied music and clarinet with Lorenzo Tio. He moved to Chicago in the early 1920s, where he worked with "King" Joe Oliver and others. In 1927 he joined Duke Ellington's band in New York, where he stayed until 1942. With Ellington, he was the featured clarinet soloist, while also doing some section work on tenor. After leaving Ellington, he moved to Los Angeles, California. He began working with trombonist Kid Ory's band during the late 1940s, and later worked with Louis Armstrong's touring band, the All Stars, He is credited as composer or co-composer on several numbers, notably the Ellington standard Mood Indigo.

We see Barney here in a club session in 1968 together with pianist Art Hodes. Art plays a relaxing blues and is joined in the last few chorusses by Barney. The other members of this group are Rails Wilson on bass and Bob Cousins on drums.

Barney Bigard 1941 This pensive melody was written by the great Duke Ellington and he, with most of the Ellington band comprise this group under Barney's heading.

Again, thanks Jerry for getting me on-track with promoting Mr. Bigard's legendary clarinet playing.

Now, Jerry, you have to help me more, what are your favorite Barney Bigard tunes, solos, stories, albums, etc... If you have any Bigard highlights you would like to share with the world, this is the place to start. Thanks.


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