Living Era presents one of the best tribute compilations in their entire catalog; a chronological mini-history of Barney Bigard composed of vintage jazz records made between January 16, 1929 and November 30, 1947. Born in New Orleans, LA in 1906, Bigard chose the life of a full-time musician only after becoming a skilled photo engraver and cigar roller. Although he studied with clarinetist Lorenzo Tio, Jr., Bigard at first preferred the tenor saxophone and was determined to stick with the bigger horn until King Oliver bought him a clarinet and urged him to practice on it. Using the Albert system with its complex cross-fingerings, Barney Bigard developed his own unique approach to the instrument; his unmistakable tone is a direct outgrowth of the fundamental New Orleans clarinet tradition. Bassist Wellman Braud had a hand in introducing Barney Bigard to Duke Ellington; Bigard was one of Duke's cardinal players from 1927 to 1942. Living Era's survey of Bigard's early and middle years combines a pair of sides he cut with Jelly Roll Morton and Zutty Singleton in 1929 with some of the best recordings he made as a member of the Duke Ellington orchestra and a fine overview of his professional life during the '40s. Bigard is heard as nominal leader of two different Ellington small groups, as leader of his own Trio session for Bob Thiele's Signature label and of a Quintet date on Keynote, that wonderful early modern label run by producer Harry Lim. Bigard sat in with Zutty Singleton's Trio and Creole Band, with Benny Morton's All Stars, with Kid Ory's Creole Jazz band and then became an essential member of Louis Armstrong's All Stars. The effect of all this great music is overwhelmingly positive, entertaining and fulfilling; Barney Bigard was a master improviser who hung out, collaborated and recorded with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.