‘Satchmo’ was arguably the greatest Jazz player of the 20th Century. His offbeat vocal style crossed over to Blues singers as well as mainstream acts in the 20s when record companies discovered the ‘race‘ market. As the Blues migrated from the Delta and other country sources to cities like Chicago and New York, there was not much differentiation between Jazz and Blues players, and Lonnie Johnson played what might well be the first ‘lead guitar’ break on Louis’ 1927 record ‘Savoy Blues’. Satchmo’s made a lasting impression on modern Blues music with the cornet solo in his 1929 record ‘West End Blues’, where he produced a perfect, coherent elaboration of the melody line, giving the blueprint for generations of lead guitarists to try to do the same thing!
Louis went on to worldwide fame as a charismatic personality, a distinctive singer, a great bandleader and a sublime cornet player.
He supposedly invented ‘scat’ singing one day in the studio, when he dropped the lyric sheet for a new song he was cutting, just as the head of the record company appeared in the control booth: the producer frantically indicated Louis should keep on singing, so he ‘scatted’ his way through the song and everyone pretended it was supposed to be that way!
Hollywood films, TV appearances, world tours, No.1 pop hits and countless collaborations added to a stellar career that drew to a close as ‘Satchmo’ died in his sleep in New York in 1971.