Arbors Records Founder Mat Domber Dies at 84
Mat Domber, founder and president of Arbors Records, died in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sept. 19 from cancer. He was 84.
Though he pursued real-estate law by profession, Domber launched Arbors Records with his wife Rachel in 1989 because of his desire to preserve classic jazz and support artists who play it.
Arbor Records’ first release was the 1990 Dixieland album Live At Lone Pine by Rick Faye’s Hot Five. Domber released more than 300 recordings on the Arbors label, ranging from contemporary jazz to ragtime to swing. Based in Clearwater, Fla., the label’s catalog includes albums by Dick Hyman, Bucky Pizzarelli, Flip Phillips, Ralph Sutton, Johnny Varro, Bob Wilber, Harry Allen, Ken Peplowski and Aaron Weinstein.
Trombonist/cornetist Dan Barrett is the label’s most recorded artist, having appeared on more than four dozen Arbors releases.
In 2008, Domber told The Mississippi Rag, “I feel that jazz is a big tent, able to encompass many styles, including well-played Dixieland. Arbors tries to promote that point of view and has even edged its way into some more contemporary styles.”
In 1992, Domber co-founded the nonprofit organization The Statesman of Jazz, which preserved the heritage of jazz through clinics and concerts by approximately 50 professional musicians.
In addition to his reputation as a nose for top jazz talent, Domber was also widely known for his March of Jazz events—a series of weekend jazz parties that began in 1994 when Domber hosted an 80th birthday party for bassist Bob Haggart. Domber’s March of Jazz events continued for 10 years until 2003, celebrating the milestone birthdays of jazz musicians such as Hyman and Phillips and eventually featuring nearly 90 musicians.
Performance clips from Arbors Records events are posted on the label’s YouTube channel.
A lifelong record collector and music fan, Domber was introduced to jazz by his father, who took him to New York performances by artists such as clarinetist Pee Wee Russell and cornetist Muggsy Spanier.
Domber is survived by his wife, who currently serves as vice president of Arbors Records.