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Bigard Memorial came from a Creole family and he had some relatives who were active in music, including his cousin Natty Dominique. He had his first clarinet lessons at Lorenzo Tio, one of the leading clarinet players in the early years of the New Orleans jazz. He played as a clarinetist and saxophonist to 1922 atAlbert Nicholas. After this he worked briefly at Octave Gaspard, Amos White and Luis Russell, to then return to Nicholas with whom he went to Chicago in 1924. He played here with King Oliver (1925-1927) and Luis Russell.
Around New York City in 1927, he was a member of the Ellington Orchestra, where he was active until 1942. At Ellington he was the clarinet soloist, but also did work on the saxophone section though Bigard. Bigard was with his clarinet play an important part of the sound of Ellington. The band leader has composed several songs to the clarinettist Barney Bigard back and contributed to the Ellington classic "Mood Indigo". In the 1930s made small groups with Ellington sidemen regular recordings. A group under Bigard's name. Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators, including Ellington himself on the piano, in 1937 scored a hit with the song "Caravan". In the following years (until 1940) made Bigard with such a group recordings for the record labels Variety, Vocalion and Okeh Records.
After leaving Ellington Bigard moved to Los Angeles, where he led his own band. He worked in the Group of trumpeter Kid Ory and the big band of Freddie Slack. He also played until the mid-1950s in various all-stargroups of Louis Armstrong. Around 1958, he had a group with Cozy Cole, with which he performed in Las Vegas . At the time he had a role in the jazz film St. Louis Blues (1958). In the early 1960s he played briefly at Armstrong, after he performed occasionally on, for example, with Earl Hines, Muggsy Spanier, Ben Pollack and ex-Ellington musician Rex Stewart. In 1971 he went with Art Hodes, Wild Bill Davison , andEddie Condon on a college tour. Later in the 1970s he appeared at various jazz festivals, including those of Nice and Newport.
In 1986 appeared by Bigard an autobiography, With Louis and the Duke.