Entertainment Magazine

Billy Crystal Presents the Milt Gabler Story on New Verve Compilation

Famous Star of Stage and Screen Pays Tribute to his
Late Uncle, an Unsung Musical Hero

Crystal Also Selects Tunes for a Very
Personal Billie Holiday Disc

NEW YORK, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, January 11, 2004, Verve Records will release Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story, a music and video tribute compilation featuring songs related to the influential music business man and visionary, Milt Gabler. The songs were carefully selected by Gabler's nephew, the famed comedian, performer, and writer, Billy Crystal.

The 26 songs featured here showcase the wide variety of talent and genres Gabler worked with during his legendary career. As the founder of New York's famous Commodore Music Shop and its namesake label (both the country's first independent jazz record company and first reissue label) as well as a forward-thinking executive at Decca Records, Gabler had an immeasurable impact on popular music from the 1930s to today. Although he did everything from take huge risks to record and distribute Billie Holiday's notoriously controversial "Strange Fruit" and help usher in the rock n' roll era with "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets (both included in this package), Milt Gabler, a Lifetime Achievement Award honoree from the Recording Academy and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is a name mostly unknown to the millions of people who hear his songs every single day.

Gabler truly holds a place in the history of American music. He recorded everyone from Louis Armstrong and Sammy Davis, Jr. to Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters. He even produced the album for Jesus Christ Superstar.

While impossible to fully capture all of Gabler's contributions and experiences on one CD, Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story easily proves the importance of Gabler's work and the incredible range of his creations.

Included here are some of Gabler's earliest productions from his Commodore Records days, including tunes from Eddie Condon and His Windy City Seven ("Love Is Just Around the Corner"), Wild Bill Davison and His Commodores ("That's a Plenty"), and The Kansas City Six ("Them There Eyes"). However, the majority of the titles here are taken from Gabler's tenure with Decca Records, and they range from jazz to pop to rock and everything in between. With both Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra ("Flying Home") and Peggy Lee ("Lover") represented here, Gabler's talents with a diverse group of genres are clear.

Gabler continued to work with Billie Holiday while at Decca ("Lover Man [Oh, Where Can You Be?"]), as well as Ella Fitzgerald ("Oh, Lady, Be Good!"), Louis Armstrong ("Blueberry Hill" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me" with Fitzgerald), The Andrews Sisters ("Rum and Coca-Cola"), and Bing Crosby and the Jesters ("MacNamara's Band"). During his time with Decca, Gabler also had his hand in the time-tested classics heard here: "The Glow-Worm" by The Mills Brothers, "Little Things Mean a Lot" by Kitty Kallen, and "Three Coins in the Fountain" by The Four Aces.

Gabler's touch can also be heard on such songs as Sammy Davis, Jr.'s "Hey There" and Pearl Bailey's "It Takes Two to Tango."

Several of the songs included on Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story are perhaps even more special than the rest; "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie" from Louis Jordan and His Tympany 5, "Danke Schoen," the Wayne Newton classic, and Nat "King" Cole's signature "L-O-V-E" were all co-written by Milt Gabler.

Also to be released by Verve on January 11, 2004 is Billie Remembers Billy [B0003770-02], a selection of Billie Holiday's Commodore and Decca works chosen specifically by Billy Crystal. He remembers "Miss Billie" as the "lady with the scratchy voice" from his childhood; she even took Crystal to his first movie when he was five years old. For this special disc, Crystal presents some of his and his uncle's favorite Lady Day tunes, including "I'll be Seeing You," "As Time Goes By," and "Embraceable You." All but one of the songs on the set ("God Bless the Child") were produced by Milt Gabler.

Both compilations include writings by Billy Crystal as well as extensive liner notes from award-winning author Ashley Kahn. Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story also includes a DVD portion featuring home videos from the Gabler/Crystal family, and a new interview with Crystal speaking both about his uncle and his own involvement in the creation of this release.

Ron Goldstein, President and CEO of the Verve Music Group comments "We are not only pleased to be releasing these wonderful historical packages, but the experience of working with Billy Crystal, with his unbelievable knowledge and passion for the music and the musicians, has been an absolute pleasure."

Billy Crystal will continue to pay tribute to his late uncle with his one-man show on Broadway, 700 Sundays. Crystal not only talks about "Uncle Milt," but includes much of the music heard on Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story. The show is one of the fastest-selling tickets and most highly-anticipated productions for the fall Broadway season.
Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story [B0003911-00]
available on CD January 11, 2004.

Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler

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