My big bro Jazz Cat Jay said something interesting about my name.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, Jay is an authority in Vintage Jazz. Even my human mommy takes advice from him. When my human daddy gave me the name, I just thought, oh that sounds like a good name and thought nothing more of it. And it allows for a lot of fun variations. So far I’ve heard my humans calling me Mr. Satchs, Satchie and Satchers.
But my big bro said to me: “Listen kid, Satchmo is not JUST a cool name. It’s a name to be proud of. You are now part of a very musical family. Furthermore, a family with a great jazz tradition. The human mom is a DJ that specializes in Vintage Jazz, Blues and Black Gospel. The human dad -even though a classically trained musician, played with a Jazz band back in the day. And I – well, I am THE Jazz Cat. Therefore, it was only fitting that you had a Jazz name.” And then he told me a story.
So, cats and kitties, this is what I learned (It’s so cool to have such a knowledgeable big brother):
There was this really hep cat named Louis Armstrong. You may have heard of him before but I’m just a little kitten and all of this is news for me.
This is Mr Louis Armstrong. He was born in New Orleans to a very poor family. He got in trouble with the law at a very young age but that turned out to be a good thing as it was there at the correction facility where he learned how to play the cornet. Later on, he had the fortune of meeting Joe “King” Oliver who took him under his wing, treated him like a son and even gave him his first cornet. And the rest is history, as they say. He went on to become one of the founding fathers of Jazz. He recorded thousands of songs, many of which have re-issued many times over the years. He partnered with many other very famous and very talented singers such as Miss Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby.
But most of all, he rose in spite of adversity. He had everything against him. And he never stopped smiling. That is perhaps his greatest gift to us all.
As Tony Bennet once said:
The bottom line of any country in the world is “what did we contribute to the world?”… We contributed Louis Armstrong
But how do you go from Louis to Satchmo? It seems like nobody knows for sure but the most accepted version is that Satchmo is short for satchel mouth. Why satchel mouth, then? Well, nobody know THAT either but it seems to be related to his mouth. Some say it was because of his big grin, some that it was because of the way his cheeks popped out when he played the trumpet and some others say it was because he used to put the coins earned while singing and dancing on the street in his mouth so they wouldn’t get stolen. Whatever the reason, he did record a song called Satchel Mouth Swing in 1938.
It is very hard for this little kitten to choose ONE song to leave you guys with. Big bro played quite a good number of them for me and I loved them all. But I think I’m gonna go with this one. And perhaps, in time, I’ll just do a series of all my favourite songs as a tribute to my [nick]namesake.