300 in Black
Celebrating the Impact of Blacks New Orleanians
Daniel “Danny” Moses Barker was born on January 13, 1909, in New Orleans, LA. Born into a musical family, his interest in jazz came early. His grandfather, Isidore Barbarin, had been a member of the great Onward Brass Band. Clarinetist Barney Bigard, who played with Duke Ellington, gave Danny lessons in clarinet. His uncle, the great jazz drummer Paul Barbarin, also taught him how to play the drums. Nonetheless, when it came to playing music, Danny settled on the banjo and guitar as his favorite instruments.
In 1930, he married Louise Dupont, who sang blues and was better known as “Blue Lu” Barker. The couple moved to New York that year where he led the life of a jazz musician; working the clubs and doing session work. While there, he worked with great musicians like Red Allen, Sidney Bechet and the legendary “Jelly Roll” Morton.
In 1938, he recorded with Decca Records. Along with his wife Blue Lu, he wrote her best known hit, “Don’t You Feel My Leg” a risqué tune recorded as “Don’t You Make Me High”. Also in that year, he joined Benny Carter’s Big Band. The following year, he became rhythm guitarist for Cab Calloway’s Big Band and played and recorded with Calloway until the late 1940s. Following his break with Calloway, he became a freelance rhythm man recording in New York with other great New Orleans transplants such as Sidney Bechet.
By the mid-1960’s, he and his wife decided to return to New Orleans and keep the traditions associated with jazz music alive by lecturing on traditional jazz history. He founded the Fairview Baptist Church Band to continue the marching band tradition. Young musicians like trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis and drummer Herlin Riley were members of the Fairview band. Barker continued performing and sharing his love and knowledge of jazz music until his death on March 13, 1994.