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In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
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There was a wonderful jazz record label in the late 30's and 40's that operated in New York out of
a record store known as the Commodore Music Shop.  The label, which was red, used the logo
"COMMODORE -- Classics in Swing."  The store was located on 42nd Street and was owned by
Milt Gabler.  The first of Milt's
10-inch, 78 rpm recordings were numbered 500 and up and were done by
the American Recording Company. Later there were some 12-inch, 78's which were numbered 1500 and

Over the next two "In Tune" columns we'll take a look at some of the tunes recorded for this legendary label
along with some information about the Commodore recordings themselves.

I WANT A LITTLE GIRL  Murray Mencher, who also wrote "On the Bumpy Road to Love," composed this
one in 1930. It  was popularized and recorded by McKinney's Cottonpickers in 1930 with a vocal by George
Thomas. Other recordings of the tune were made by Count Basie, Jimmie Rushing, Lester Young, and Big
Joe Turner. This song was strongly linked to Kansas City's golden age of jazz. The Commodore recording of
it was made in 1938 and was numbered 509-B. It was done by the Kansas City Six which included: Buck
Clayton(tp); Eddie Durham (tb. & gt.); Lester Young (cl.); Freddie Green (gt); Walter Paige (b); and Jo Jones
(d).

WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS written in 1922 by Harry Creamer and Turner Layton who
also wrote "After You've Gone." This tune was originally written for the ill-fated show called "Strut Miss
Lizzie" and later was included in a show called "Spice of 1922." It had what Jelly Roll Morton called "that
Spanish tinge." Later it became Louis Prima's theme song. It was first recorded by the Dixie Daisies in 1922
on the Cameo label. It was also recorded by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra that same year. The Commodore
recording of it was made in 1938 and was numbered 512-B. It was also done by the Kansas City Six, as
above.

I GOTTA RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES written in 1932 by Harold Arlen who also wrote "Get Happy" and
"It's Only a Paper Moon." It was introduced in the musical review, "Earl Carroll's Vanities" by Lillian Shade.
It became the theme song of Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra. It was recorded by Cab Calloway, Louis
Armstrong, and Benny Goodman. The Commodore recording of it was made in 1939 and was numbered
527. It was done by Billie Holiday and her Orchestra which included: Frankie Newton (tp); Tab Smith (as);
Ken Hollon and Stan Payne (ts); Jimmy McLin (p); Johnny Williams (gt); and Eddie Dougherty (b).

I AIN'T GONNA GIVE NOBODY NONE OF MY JELLY ROLL written in 1919 by Spencer Williams who
also wrote "Tishomingo Blues." This tune was one of the first three successfully published by Clarence
Williams, a noted jazz composer in his own right, but not related to Spencer. It was recorded in the fall of
1919 by Wilbur Sweatman's Band and also by Ford Dabney's Novelty Orchestra. The Commodore recording
of it was  made in 1939 and was numbered 531. It was made by Eddie Condon and his Band which
included: Max Kaminsky(c); Brad Gowen (vtb); Pee Wee Russell(cl); Joe Bushkin (p); Eddie Condon(gt);
Artie Shapiro(b); and George Wettling (d).
UGLY CHILE originally written in 1917 by Clarence Williams as "You're Some Pretty Doll," it was
popularized by trombonist Georg Brunis. Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to it and called it by this title.   
The Commodore recording of it was made in 1943 and is numbered 546A. It was recorded by Georg Brunis
and his Jazz Band which included: Wild Bill Davison(c); Georg Brunis(tb); Pee Wee Russell (cl); Gene
Schroeder(p); Eddie Condon (gt); Bob Casey (b); George Wettling (d).

IT'S ONLY A SHANTY IN OLD SHANTY TOWN written in 1932 by Little Jack Little who also wrote
"Jealous" and "Hold Me." It was used in the film, "Lullaby of Broadway" with Doris Day. The Commodore
recording of it was made in 1944 and is numbered 557B. It was done by Edmond Hall and his Quartet
which included Edmond Hall (cl); Teddy Wilson (p); Billy Taylor (b); and Arthur Trappier(d).
In Tune                                                                     February 2005
Commodore Records Part 2

One of the great features of the red label affixed to Milt Gabler's Commodore 78's was the listing of the band
personnel - not something done ordinarily by other labels. It had its liabilities though. If you recorded for
Milt Gabler but were under contract to somebody else, you didn't want your name to appear on those labels.
Thus Fats Waller, who was under RCA-Victor's wing, was listed as "Maurice," - his son's name.
The most frequent name to appear on those labels (at least up to 1942) was Eddie Condon and his groups of,
as he said, "usual suspects."  In the 60's, much of the Commodore catalog was reissued on the Mainstream
(LP) label.  This was done after Milt Gabler retired as A & R man for Decca Records. Here are some more
tunes Commodore recorded:


Regardless, Lil won a lawsuit against Louis over its copyright. The Commodore recording of this tune was
Regardless, Lil won a lawsuit against Louis over its copyright. The Commodore recording of this tune was
done in 1944 and was numbered 561A. It was recorded by George Wettling and his Rhythm Kings, which
included: Billy Butterfield (tp); Wilbur DeParis (tb); Edmond Hall (cl); Dave Bowman (p); Bob Haggart (b);
and George Wettling (d).
and George Wettling (d).


GEORGIA ON MY MIND written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael, who also wrote "New Orleans." The lyricst
was Stuart Gorrell.  Mildred Bailey popularized the tune. It was reprised by Ray Charles in 1960 and became
a number one hit on the charts. The 1944 Commodore recording, numbered 565B, was by Joe Bushkin and
his Sextet with Earnie Figueroa(tp); Bill Harris (tb); Zoot Sims (ts); Joe Bushkin (p); Sid Weiss(b); and Specs
Powell(d).

SINGIN' THE BLUES (Till My Daddy Comes Home)  J. Russell Robinson set this one to paper in 1920.
Robinson, who was the piano player for the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1920, also wrote "Rhythm King"
and "Margie." The tune was popularized by the ODJB.  The Commodore version, numbered 568A, was done
in 1943 by Eddie Condon and his Band which included: Maz Kaminsky(tp); Brad Gowan (vtb); Pee Wee
Russell (cl); Joe Bushkin (p); Eddie Condon (gt); Bob Casey(b); Tony Sparbaro (d).

I  CAN'T BELIEVE THAT YOU'RE IN LOVE WITH ME penned by Jimmy McHugh in 1927. It was
introduced by Winnie Lightner in the musical review "Gay Paree." Roger Wolfe Kahn and his Orchestra
popularized it and the Ames Brothers revived it in 1953. McHugh also wrote "Blue Again" and "I'm in the
Mood for Love." Numbered 577B in the Commodore book, it was recoded in 1943 by Eddie Heywood and
his Orchestra which included: Doc Cheatham(tp); Lem Davis (as); Vic Dickenson (tb); Eddie Heywood (p);
Al Lucas (b); and Jack Parker (d).

ROSETTA written in 1933 by pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines who also wrote "My Monday Date" and "You Can
Depend on Me." It was named after the "pesty" girlfriend of Hines' arranger. The Commodore recording of
this tune was numbered 586B. It was waxed in 1944 by Mugsy Spanier and his Ragtimers: Mugsy Spanier(c);
Miff Mole(tb); Pee Wee Russell (cl); Bonnie Richman (ts); Eddie Condon (gt); Gene Schroeder(p); Bob
Haggart (b); and George Wettling (d).

A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND Eddie Green wrote and introduced this tune in vaudeville in 1918. It was
the first hit tune published by the newly formed publishing firm of Pace and Handy. The great sheet music
sales was prompted by the Sophie Tucker recording. Ted Lewis as well as Bessie Smith also recorded of it. It
was used in the film "Meet Danny Wilson" with Shelley Winters and Frank Sinatra. The 1940 Commodore
recording was one of their 12-inch 78's. It was numbered 1504A and was titled “A Jam Session at
Commodore." It was continued on the flip side 1504B. The following musicians were on the session: Mugsy
Spanier and Max Kaminsky (c); Miff Mole (tb); Brad Gowan (vtb); Joe Marsala (as); Pee Wee Russell (cl); Bud
Freeman (ts); Eddie Condon (gt); Jess Stacy (p); Artie Shapiro (b); and George Wettling (d).
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