Barney Bigard

Clarinet Lament

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Barney Bigard is best remembered for having served as Duke Ellington's star clarinetist until he quit in 1942, leaving a gap to be filled in 1943 with the arrival of saxophonist and clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton. Prior to his lengthy tenure with the Duke, Bigard had made records with Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Ma Rainey, Louis Armstrong, and Luis Russell, wielding tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones in addition to the clarinet. Released in 1996, Clarinet Lament is a 23-track sampler of recordings he made between 1929 and 1945. The producers of this album left it to someone else to illuminate Bigard's early adventures as a sideman, for only the "Turtle Twist," played by a trio composed of Morton, Bigard, and drummer Zutty Singleton, and the Ellington-led Cotton Club Orchestra's "Saturday Night Function" predate the 1930s. Clarinet Lament was one of many compositions that Duke tailored for the personalities and abilities of his soloists, hence the subtitle "Barney's Concerto." The clarinetist is also heard with his own Jazzopators and with Cootie Williams & His Rug Cutters, both offshoots of the Ellington band. This collection also contains a healthy sampling of his recording activities as a leader further away from the Ellington orbit, including a bit of mood music with a string ensemble under the direction of Roger Kay, outings with octets led by Rex Stewart and Jack Teagarden under the auspices of the Hot Record Society, and two of the very best sessions Bigard ever led, first for Bob Thiele's Signature label, and then for Keynote, a short-lived yet stunningly productive recording enterprise run by Indonesian American jazz lover and producer Harry Lim. One of several excellent Barney Bigard samplers on the market, this useful and entertaining survey of Bigard in his prime is recommended for relaxation, housework, food preparation, and playing hooky.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:05
2 3:12
3 3:09
4 3:00
5 2:51
6 2:55
7 2:41
8 2:30
9 2:50
10 2:41
11
feat: Rex Stewart
4:19
12
feat: Rex Stewart
4:16
13 2:52
14 3:31
15 3:11
16 4:11
17 4:16
18 3:22
19 3:17
20 3:25
21 3:14
22 3:16
23 2:50
blue highlight denotes track pick