As a young man in New Orleans, Barney Bigard took clarinet lessons with Lorenzo Tio Jr. and Papa Tio. He played the instrument in parades in New Orleans, but first became known as a tenor-saxophonist. After working with several groups in New Orleans, Bigard moved to Chicago where he played with King Oliver from 1925 until 1927. He
would also record with Jelly Roll Morton, Johnny Dodds and Louis
Armstrong while in the Windy City. In 1927, Bigard toured with Oliver, but quit shortly afterwards and played for a little with the Charles Elgar's Creole Orchestra and Luis Russell Orchestra.
Bigard found his niche with Duke Ellington's Orchestra, where he almost
exclusively played clarinet. Between 1927 and 1942 he was featured on many of Ellington's classic
"Mood Indigo"which Bigard co-composed. When he grew tired of touring and quit the band in 1942, Bigard played with Freddie Slack's big band, and Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra. He also appeared in the 1946 film "New
Orleans." In 1947, Bigard joined the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, and constantly toured the world
with the group until 1955, when he left the band. He later re-joined the band from 1960-61. He spent 1958-59 with Cozy Cole's big band. Bigard was semi-retired after 1962, but still played now and then, recording with Earl
Hines, and playing in a Johnny St. Cyr's Dixieland band called the Young Men from New Orleans at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.