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The Politics of Dancing: Jazz and Protest, Part 1

Karl Ackermann By

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A Harlem native of Austrian Jewish immigrants, Milt Gabler began working in his father's Manhattan radio shop as a teenager. When he took it over in the 1930s, he also shifted its business model, buying excess copies of recordings for resale. He was the first music seller to credit all the musicians who participated in a recording, and to sell records by mail. Holiday approached Gabler, offering his company—now rebranded as Commodore Records—the opportunity to issue "Strange Fruit." The record was a major success, putting Commodore on the map and leading to a partnership with the Decca label. Douglas Martin's New York Times obituary for Gabler (July 25, 2001) reported that the producer died with a single photograph of Holiday on his bedside table.

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