Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

By J. Thomas Duffy

Happy First-Monday-In-September, otherwise known as Labor Day!

It is a Federal Holiday today, and Wikipedia tells us:

The holiday originated in Canada out of labor disputes ("Nine-Hour Movement") first in Hamilton, then in Toronto, Canada in the 1870s, which resulted in a Trade Union Act which legalized and protected union activity in 1872 in Canada. The parades held in support of the Nine-Hour Movement and the printers' strike led to an annual celebration in Canada. In 1882, American labor leader Peter J. McGuire witnessed one of these labor festivals in Toronto. Inspired from Canadian events in Toronto, he returned to New York and organized the first American "labor day" on September 5 of the same year.[citation needed]

The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City.[1] In the aftermath of the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the US military and US Marshals during the 1894 Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with Labor as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.[2] Cleveland was also concerned that aligning a US labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair.[3] All 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday.


A president who makes something a "top political priority" and then gets it done -- imagine that!

Today is also, unofficially, the demarcation point, signaling the end of summer (you can put away those white pants now).

So, for our contribution, we'll give you what became a jazz standard, recorded by just about everybody (including Bobby Darin).

"Work Song," written by Nat Adderley (here's an interview with Nat), more associated with his brother, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (and, sometimes given the title "The Chain Gang Song").

At least one line of the lyrics is still, unfortunately, on-the-money for today:

Been workin' and workin', and still got so terribly far to go ...

Whatever you do today, however you celebrate it, Happy Labor Day!

Cannonball Adderley Sextet- Work Song (from Oscar Brown Jr's Jazz Scene, with Nat Adderley, Louis Hayes, Sam Jones, Joe Zawinul, and Yusef Lateef)

Bonus Bonus

Here's another rendition from a killer, all-star line-up of Sonny Rollins, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Freddie Hubbard, Bill Watrous, Hubert Laws, McCoy Tyner, George Benson, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Airto Moreira:

Down Beat 1975 poll-winners' show: 'Work Song'

Or, Oscar Brown Jr. hittin' it

Nina Simone

Grant Green

Monty Alexander Trio

Ray Barretto & New World Spirit

Eddie Harris

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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