La Vie En Satchmo

Speaking of roses…

Oh, we weren’t? Well, we are now. The resident rose expert around here informed me the other day that two famous roses are named in honor of Louis Armstrong. The same breeder developed both of them. His name is Sam McGredy (pictured), an Irishman who moved to New Zealand more than 40 years ago. Among rose aficionados around the world he became famous for his hybrids. McGredy’s “Satchmo” rose came first, in 1970. According to Stirling Macoboy’s The Ultimate Rose Book, experts admire it “for its bright scarlet color, its shapely clusters of double flowers and its freedom of bloom.”

McGredy is reported to believe that “Satchmo’s” 1977 hybrid offspring, “Trumpeter,” also named in tribute to Armstrong, supersedes its parent. Again quoting Macoboy, the flowers “are only slightly scented, but they are borne in great abundance and hold their jazzy color until they drop, without fading, burning or turning purple.” You may read into those qualities whatever metaphorical significance pleases you.

Now, to the main event. You knew this was coming, right? It’s Louis and the
All-Stars on tour in Europe. Oddly, this seems to be the only video of Armstrong performing one of his biggest hits. For reasons not explained, less than two minutes in still photos take over and the performance ends abruptly at 3:18. But it’s what we have, and it’s a treasure.

On his Armstrong web site Ricky Riccardi has a comprehensive history of Pops’ affair with “La Vie en Rose,” including seven MP3 versions by Louis and a clip from the motion picture Wall-E.

If Sam McGredy or rose breeding interest you, this link will take you to an on-camera interview with McGredy about his long career and some of the roses he’s named after friends and acquaintances, including the one known as “Sexy Rexy.”

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  1. alex tough says

    “roses are red, violets are blue,
    louis is great with all ballads and blues”
    no aoplogies from me either!