Albany Leon Bigard (March 3, 1906 – June 27, 1980), aka Barney Bigard, was an American jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, though primarily known for the clarinet. 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 Joe “King” Oliver and others. During this period, much of his recording with Oliver and others, including clarinetist Johnny Dodds, was on tenor saxophone, an instrument he played often with great lyricism, as on Oliver’s hit recording of “Someday Sweetheart”. 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’s Orchestra, he moved to Los Angeles, California and did sound track work, including an onscreen featured role with an allstar band led by Louis Armstrong in the 1947 film New Orleans. 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, and others. He appeared and played in the movie St. Louis Blues in 1958, with Nat King Cole,Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey and Eartha Kitt. He died in Culver City, California.
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