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Commodore

Profile:

Independent record label founded 1938 by Milt Gabler, as an offshoot of his legendary mid-Manhattan Commodore Music Shop. Commodore was one of the first record companies whose principal motivation was a deep love for the music and a desire to celebrate jazz and its players.

The label's major body of work is from the 1940's, releasing artists like Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Teddy Wilson, Leon "Chu" Berry, Bud Freeman, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Jelly Roll Morton, and many others. Milt Gabler went on to work for the Decca label as A&R and producer in the early 40's. Commodore ceased as recording company in 1954, but Decca has later on used the label as jazz re-release platform.

When Billie Holiday approached her recording label, Columbia regarding the song Strange Fruit, the company feared reaction by record retailers in the southern United States, as well as negative reaction from affiliates of its co-owned radio network, CBS. When Holiday's producer John Hammond also refused to record it, she turned to her friend Milt Gabler, who worked out a special arrangement with Vocalion (2) to record and distribute the song. Columbia gave Holiday a one-session release from her contract so that she could record the song.

78 rpm releases can be dated based on the address on the labels:

1. Earliest releases from 1938 (catalog #s 500-508 and 1500) have a 144 E. 42nd St address at bottom of labels.
2. Late 1938 to early 1941 (catalog #s 509-537 or maybe as high as #542, 1501-1510) have a 46 W. 52nd St address at bottom of labels.
3. 1941 to 1946 may have either a 136 E. 42nd St. address at bottom of labels (lowest seen is catalog #541 in 1944, highest is #568) or no address on labels.
4. 1946 to 1948 (catalog #s 569 and up) have no address on labels. It may be possible that all of the no address labels are 1946 and later, but this has not been proven yet.
5. Late 1947 to 1949 (7500 catalog #s) have purple Starmaker Series labels

Any date printed on the labels is a recording date, not a release date. Popular releases such as Billie Hollday's "Strange Fruit" exist in multiple variations as they were kept in print and reissued / repressed repeatedly.

Label code: LC 0094

Parent Label:Commodore Record Co., Inc.
Sublabels:52nd Street Hot Jazz, Commodore Classics, Commodore Classics In Jazz, Commodore Jazz Classics, Dixieland Jazz Series, Harlem Jazz Series, Starmaker Series
Links:Wikipedia , Wikipedia , riverwalkjazz.stanford.edu

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