Cover image for Satchmo : the Louis Armstrong encyclopedia
Satchmo : the Louis Armstrong encyclopedia
Meckna, Michael.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 432 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML419.A75 M45 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



When pressed to name the most influential musician of the 20th century, many music historians will name Louis Satchmo Armstrong. Born in New Orleans in 1901 and recording into the 1970s, Armstrong is known as the father of jazz, the one figure most credited with moving the Western world from the age of classical music and Tin Pan Alley pop standards into an exciting new era of swing and hot jazz. Michael Meckna's book is the authoritative reference on Armstrong. Alphabetically arranged entries give detailed information on the many aspects of Armstrong's life and music. An appendix of CD releases includes entries that detail the record company, date of issue, song list, and performer list. Other appendices include a chronology, a list of movies, and a resource guide to Satchmo on the Web; a bibliography offers yet another useful tool for fans and students of Armstrong's life and music. A selection of historic black-and-white photos completes the volume.

Author Notes

MICHAEL MECKNA is Professor of Music History at Texas Christian University. He is also the author of Twentieth-Century Brass Soloists (Greenwood, 1994).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This encyclopedia is a comprehensive compendium of the life and work of one of the most influential and pervasive jazz entertainers of the twentieth century. Meckna, professor of music history at Texas Christian University, has compiled the only reference source focused solely on the legendary jazz trumpeter. Biographies on Armstrong abound, but Satchmo should become the premier quick-access source for information on his style, legacy, critical reception, films, writings, and recordings. The encyclopedia is very user-friendly yet exhaustive and detailed. Entries are alphabetical, and most are a short paragraph in length, with a few stretching to a half page long. Cross-references are plentiful, and black-and-white photos are interspersed throughout the text. A short preface summarizes Armstrong's life, while four appendixes usefully complement the A-Z entries. One appendix is an exhaustive chronology with detailed paragraph summaries of nearly every year of Armstrong's life. Even posthumous recognition is covered, like the 2001 dedication of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the first to be named after a musician. Other appendixes list his recordings on compact disc, movies in which he appeared, and the best Web sites for Armstrong research. The appendixes are followed by a 10-page selected bibliography listing books, journal articles, and sources intended for a juvenile audience as well as more arcane sources like transcribed trumpet solos. The level of detail in this volume is impressive--and often amusing and entertaining as well. The entry on When the Saints Go Marching In informs the reader that the song was formerly a spiritual mainly played at funerals. When his sister objected to Armstrong's sacrilegious jazzy version, he pointed out that she, after all, played bingo in church. Such was his popularity that he often received mail addressed no more specifically than 'Ole Satchmo' Himself/Where ever he is. We even learn that Satchmo is derived from Satchelmouth. Other entries cover theaters in which Armstrong played, musicians with whom he associated, and, of course, his songs and recordings. Overall, this is an excellent resource for academic and large public libraries. --Michael Tosko Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Louis Armstrong is probably the best-known musician in the history of jazz. He has been the subject of over 100 books and countless magazine articles. Meckna (Twentieth-Century Brass Soloists) has created a resource that aims to get a firm grip on this formidable body of material. The 2000-plus alphabetical entries vary in length from several sentences to several pages, depending on the subject. Topics include both professional and personal information, e.g., Armstrong's four marriages, musicians associated with Armstrong (including trumpeters he influenced), and songs that he performed. While the author seems to know his subject well, the book suffers from repetition. Some of the entries borrow text from one another. For example, under "Associated Booking Corporation," readers learn about Joe Glaser's booking of black artists; this information is repeated in the entry for Joe Glaser (Armstrong's longtime manager). In that same entry, it is implied that he was involved in pedophilia and rape, but this information is never supported. When such strong accusations are made, they should not be given as a throwaway remark. Bottom Line While this book has some useful features and is the first encyclopedia devoted to Armstrong, the quality is lacking. Libraries are better off relying on The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2d ed.-Ronald S. Russ, Arkansas State Univ. Lib., Beebe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Although biographies of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong are many, it is surprising to discover that this is the first encyclopedia devoted solely to the "Founding Father of Jazz." Meckna's authoritative and comprehensive encyclopedia covers such topics as Armstrong's musical and personal life, his influence, his musical associates, and recordings. Alphabetically arranged entries are brief but informative, written in nonscholarly prose accessible to most undergraduates. Even scholars of music or American history will find much useful information in this encyclopedia, whether in its entries for recordings or its inclusion of Armstrong's lesser-known musical colleagues (e.g., drummer Barrett Deams, guitarist Lawrence Lucie, bassist and trombone player Johnny Lindsay). Engaging entries include those on marijuana and laxatives (Armstrong was a user his entire life) and Armstrong's close relationship with jazz writer Leonard Feather. Scattered throughout are many photographs of Satchmo at various stages of his life, and four appendixes includes lists of Armstrong's recordings on CD, Web sites, motion pictures in which Armstrong appeared, and a chronology. Libraries supporting study of jazz or 20th-century American history should acquire this work. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. M. D. Garrett Our Lady of the Lake University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
The Encyclopediap. 1
Appendix 1 Satchmo on CDp. 339
Appendix 2 Chronologyp. 373
Appendix 3 Moviesp. 393
Appendix 4 On the Webp. 395
Selected Bibliographyp. 397
Indexp. 409