This is Labor Day or, if you prefer the Canadian spelling, Labour Day. There is official observance of the day established in Canada in 1872 and the US in 1887 to honor the economic and social contributions of working people. It long ago expanded to a three-day holiday weekend that marks the unofficial end of summer, the return of children to school and huge sales at department stores, automobile dealerships and sellers of electronics. Millions of Americans celebrate Labor Day by grilling and consuming pieces of meat marinated in or covered with barbecue sauce.
So, what could be more appropriate than to honor the laboring classes with two versions of Lil Hardin Armstrong’s classic composition. The first, from 1927 is by the man she was married to at the time and his Hot Five. The second, cooler, with the title and the beat altered, was recorded 41 years later.
Louis Armstrong (tp); Kid Ory (tb); Johnny Dodds (cl); Lil Armstrong (p); Johnny St. Cyr (bj). November 9, 1927.
Depending on your computer setup, you may have to watch and hear the next one by clicking “Watch on YouTube” in the box below. If so, we are orry for the inconvenience. The music is worth it.
Paul Desmond, alto saxophone; Herbie Hancock, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Airto Moreira, drums; Joe Beck, guitar; Wayne Andre, Paul Faulise, Bill Watrous, Kai Winding, trombone; John Eckert, Joe Shepley, Marvin Stamm, trumpet; Ray Alonge, Tony Miranda, French horn; Don Sebesky, arranger. November 20, 1968.
Happy Labor Day, whether you are in the US, Canada or Timbuktu.
(A version of this post appeared in Rifftides three years ago. The enthusiastic response suggested that we do it again.)