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Commodore Records was founded in the spring of 1938 by Milt Gabler, who in 1926 had founded the Commodore Music Shop in Manhattan, New York City, originally at 136 East 42nd Street (diagonally across the street from the Commodore Hotel), and from 1938–41 with a branch at 46 West 52nd Street – an address commemorated in Chu Berry's 'Forty-six, West Fifty-two'. The bulk of Commodore's issues were of Dixieland jazz, though other styles also sometimes appeared on the label. Eddie Condon recorded frequently for the label, with such notables as George Brunies and Pee Wee Russell often in his band. Commodore was one of the first labels to list the full personnel of bands on the label.
Like his UHCA label, Gabler initially arranged for recording and pressing made by ARC, then Reeves Transcription Services and Decca, so both Commodore and UHCA used various matrix number series, depending on where the session originated from.
After World War II Gabler went to work for Decca Records, and his Commodore label was later used by Decca for reissuing earlier jazz recordings on LP. In the early 1960s a series of Commodore albums were compiled by Gabler and part of the Mainstream label.
Mosaic Records issued three LP sets of the label's complete output.
- Peter Clayton and Peter Gammond, The Guinness Jazz Companion (Enfield: Guinness Publishing, 2nd edn, 1989), p. 65.