Louis Armstrong has probably played and sung When the Saints Go Marching In thousands and thousand of times. In the 1959 movie about the life of jazz cornet player Red Nichols, The Five Pennies, Louis and Danny Kaye have a great time on Saints, with a whole lot of added funny lyrics using mostly composers’ names. Both musicians scat in the tune (scatting is using improvised nonsense lyrics).
Louis Armstrong is sometimes given credit for creating scat singing in the 1926 tune Heebie Jeebies. The story goes that he dropped his music, and since the wax cylinder was rolling, he had to do something, so he started singing made-up syllables. However, he wasn’t the first. According to an interview transcription with Alan Lomax, the great Jelly Roll Morton gave some different information <snip>
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Lomax: Well, what about some more scat songs, that you used to sing way back then?
Morton: Oh, I’ll sing you some scat songs. That was way before Louis Armstrong’s time. By the way, scat is something that a lot of people don’t understand, and they begin to believe that the first scat numbers was ever done, was done by one of my hometown boys, Louie Armstrong. But I must take the credit away, since I know better. The first man that ever did a scat number in history of this country was a man from Vicksburg, Mississippi, by the name of Joe Sims, an old comedian. And from that, Tony Jackson and myself, and several more grabbed it in New Orleans. And found it was pretty good for an introduction of a song.