Arbors Records was founded by Rachel and Mat Domber in 1989 to record and preserve the classic styles of jazz. It originated because of their desire to record their friend, the outstanding reedman, singer and composer, Rick Fay, who had been in the music business for over 40 years mostly as a performer at the Disney parks in California and Florida, but had never previously recorded.
Although Mat Domber is a lawyer with an office in New York and real estate interests in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida, he has been a jazz fan, record collector and listener, beginning with his visits to Nick's in Greenwich Village as a pre-teen, almost all of his life.
Since the release of their first recording, Rick Fay's Hot Five: Live at Lone Pine, in 1990, Arbors Records through the summer of 2002, has put out almost 160 CDs, featuring such jazz artists as Ruby Braff, Dick Hyman, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber, Dan Barrett, Bob Haggart, Dave Frishberg, Rebecca Kilgore, Johnny Varro, George Masso, Bucky Pizzarelli, Bobby Gordon, and Jackie Coon, to name only a few. Dan Barrett, the outstanding trombonist, cornetist and arranger is the music director of the label.
Another 30 to 40 CDs have been recorded but are still in production.
The catalog and the list of artists describes fully the recordings available.
Arbors Records is also the producer of the acclaimed March of Jazz weekend jazz parties, held in Florida the third weekend in March. The first party in 1994 celebrated Bob Haggart's 80th birthday, the second in 1995 celebrated the 80th birthday of Flip Phillips. The 1996 party celebrated the March birthdays of Bob Haggart, Dick Hyman, Flip Phillips, Red Norvo and Bob Wilber and the 80th birthday of Joe Bushkin and in 1997 all of their birthdays were again celebrated, as well as the 85th birthday of Jerry Jerome. All of the March birthday celebrants and Jerry Jerome were back for the 1998 March of Jazz which was an International event featuring 13 musicians from Europe performing with 31 all-stars from the U.S. The special honoree was Benny Waters, who at 96 was the world's oldest regularly performing jazz musician. At the March of Jazz 2000 which was held at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort on March 17-19, 2000; 48 musicians performed to honor the 85th birthday of Flip Phillips. In 2001, the March of Jazz honored the 74th birthday of Ruby Braff and in 2002, the honorees were John Bunch and Joe Wilder. Tributes were also given to Ralph Sutton and Jerry Jerome who sadly passed away during the year before their birthday celebration could be held. In 2003 the March of Jazz will be celebrating the 77th birthday of Bucky Pizzarelli and the 83rd birthday of Jack Lesberg. See March of Jazz listing for full details.
Two videos of March of Jazz performances have been released, one taped at Flip Phillips' 80th birthday party and the other of Bob Wilber's Big Band at the 1996 March of Jazz.
Arbors Records is also a sponsor of the Suncoast Dixieland Jazz Classic, in Clearwater Beach, Florida. In addition, Mat Domber is a board member of the American Federation of Jazz Societies and a co-founder of the Statesmen of Jazz, a touring ensemble group of senior musicians who perform at jazz events and give clinics in the schools. The Statesmen have recorded a CD produced by Arbors Records, featuring such legendary performers as Clark Terry, Joe Wilder, Al Grey, Buddy Tate, Benny Waters, Fiddler Williams, Jane Jarvis, Milt Hinton, and Panama Francis.
Starting with the original dixieland recordings by various Rick Fay groups, the label now embraces traditional jazz and contemporary classic jazz and the swing styles of the '30s, '40s, '50s and beyond. But regardless of style, all of the recordings have in common a love of melody, improvisation and swing.
Arbors Records regularly advertises in such publications as Down Beat, JazzTimes, Jazz Journal International, The Mississippi Rag, The American Rag, Coda and Cadence, among others, and its releases are frequently reviewed by those magazines. Its recordings can be heard on more than 250 radio stations around the world and it was selected as the number one jazz label for 1999 by the readers of The Mississippi Rag. It was also listed in Down Beat this year as one of the top jazz labels. Allegro Music is its exclusive distributor in the United States and Canada and other distributors are located in Great Britain, Switzerland, France, Australia, Germany, Sweden and Japan.