10 great jazz tunes for the Labour Day weekend

Labour Day weekend is sometimes referred to as the last big hurrah before things go back to “normal” — whether that’s back to work, back to school, or back to wherever.

For this reason, I think your soundtrack to the end of summer should be filled with songs that still keep sunny days in mind. Stay positive, happy and upbeat. So, here are 10 jazz tunes I will be playing over the long weekend — and that you should, too.


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Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Everybody Loves the Sunshine

There are so many remixes of this song — and a cool version by Takuya Kuroda — but why not go back to 1976 when Roy Ayers had a minor hit with his tune. It has become a huge song in the decades that have followed and has been covered by other artists countless times.


Koop – Summer Sun

I’m a fan of the Swedish band Koop and their original material. This is the song that launched them in North America. Although it was released in 2001, it still sounds modern, as if it was recorded in the past year or two. Much of the credit goes to Yukimi Nagano, whose timeless voice is so attributable to the band’s success.


Molly Johnson – Summertime

Ella Fitzgerald, Norah Jones, Miles Davis… There are so many great versions of this Gershwin jazz standard. With the Kensington Market Jazz Festival coming up in mid-September, why not play founder Molly Johnson’s excellent rendition?


Triodes – Black Disciples

This Toronto band doesn’t play around town often enough, but that never prevents me from playing their Chunked album all summer long. Paul Neufeld, Michael and Roberto Occhipinti, Don Pham and guest saxman Jeff Coffin created a perfect record, and this track has a jazz-meets-reggae bent that is perfect for chilling in your backyard or at the cottage.


Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Bahia

Anything by Stan Getz works well on Labour Day weekend — he even recorded a song called A Summer Afternoon — but this track is definitely a fave. It’s got a ‘50s exotica feel to it, but at the end of the day, it’s pure jazz.


Ted Quinlan – Go West

Toronto’s local guitar hero (and retired jazz educator) has written some great tunes, but nothing screams summer quite like this one from his Streetscapes album. I could listen to this song five times in a row — it’s that good.


Chris Botti – Indian Summer

American trumpeter Chris Botti works well in the evening — post-barbecue, for example. Take a Muskoka sunset and enhance it with his perfect playing and slick production. Then again, since I don’t own a cottage, I’ll probably be playing this in Cabbagetown or Parkdale.


Melody Gardot – Preacherman

Who am I kidding? I’m not going to play one song on Melody Gardot’s brilliant 2015 recording Currency of Man. I’ll be playing the entire album.


Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – So Many Stars

I’ve heard many versions of this song, but this is the first one I heard and it’s still my favourite. Dave Grusin arranged this perfectly, and Lan Hall perfectly sang the lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. It’s from the 1968 album Look Around.


Barbra Lica – Star Up

As the sun sets and the stars come out to play, I recommend adding Star Up to your playlist. This Barbra Lica composition is not featured on an album yet, but it’s one of my favourite songs. The live video is a must-see.