MAT DOMBER, founder and CEO of Arbors Records, passed away in Sept. 2012  (see links below for obituaries and more details).  his CDs encompassed the legendary, near legendary, and legends to be of mainstream jazz, the Who’s Who of What’s What of our tradition.

Arbors –the name is an amalgam of his and his widow Rachel’s surnames– is based in Clearwater, Florida.  his annual Clearwater Festival was an oasis in this jazz-desert.  his ever-smiling visage and warm greetings was a calming demeanor.  the entire staff reflected this Santa Claus-like cherub.

our granddaughter,16 at this posting, is a figure skating medalist at Clearwater’s championship rink, so with each visit there was always time for a chat, some dinner –the Dombers have excellent restaurant karma– a recording session, and of course a bagful of take-away, CDs, that is.

the last Arbors recording session we attended starred the 90 year old Swedish violinist/violist Svend Asmussen who was in the states for some dates and Mat thought what an opportunity to record this legend.  i was lucky enough to be there and briefly sat with Asmussen for my column: The OctoJAZZarians ©.  we never got to post that brief gab session prior to his return home.  his wife was very protective so as not to exhaust the frail violinist after the recording session.  but if not for Mat i might have missed the opportunity to speak, even but for a moment, with the living history-laden Svend Asmussen.

as stated Arbors’ stable of artists is repleat with veterans such a  Dick HymanBucky Pizzarelli and Bob Wilber, under recorded established artists such as Daryl ShermanDerek Smith, Ken Peplowski and Howard Alden, as well as relative newbies Nicki Parrott and Aaron Weinstein.  (for a complete list please Google or Yahoo “Mat Domber.”)

on more than one occasion impresario Jack Kleinsinger (Highlights In Jazz) joined forces with Mat to present Arbors’ Statesmen of Jazz, a band comprised of some of the artists on the label.

i have asked some of them for brief statements.

Dick Hyman, piano: “Mat Domber was a true patron (with an accent on the second syllable as in French) of jazz and jazz people.  He loved the music, the players and the jazz scene, and to me it has seemed clear that he was continuing that old and honorable tradition of support for musicians which we’ve known since the time of Mozart.  I don’t think that his record company could have been as profitable [sic] as he was generous, although by now Arbors is an impressive catlogue, nor his jazz parties, as well-attended as they have been.  Mat backed jazz preople out of love, and we have all benefited.”

Bob Wilber, clarinet & alto sax (w/Pug Horton, wife & vocalist): “Mat was a good friend and a true believer in Classic Jazz.  His generosity to all his performers will never be equalled.  He was truly ‘a one off’ [sic].  We enjoyed food and trips through France staying at fabulous hotels, feasting on gourmet food and laughing ourselves silly!  He will be sorely missed.”

Aaron Weinstein, violin:  ”Mat did more to keep this music going than anyone I knew.  He gave me serious musical responsibility.  Mat allowed me, at the age of 19, to produce my own record.  His confidece and encouragement meant so much to me.”

Daryl Sherman, pianist & vocalist: I met [Mat] when he first started the label and even before i actually recorded for him and Rachel.  [I 'd see them] around town once in a while.  They were such fun and so kind and supportive.

“In addition to my own recordings he released an album of my dad’s live playing [trombonist Sammy Sherman].  I’ll never be able to thank him enough for that, let alone all the others I got to record [with] or guest on.  Thanks for thinking of me.”

Nicki Parrott, bassist & vocalist: “Mat Domber was very, very kind to me. I wouldn’t have had all the amazing opportunities to work with some really important musicians if it werent’ for him.

“He had a great sense of humor and he always seemed to be having a good time.  I think Mat is an example of putting your heart into doing what makes you happy. I’m very grateful for the wonderful times I had with him and his equally encouraging wife, Rachel.”



for a complete Mat Domber’s Obituary: www,

consult Google and/or Yahoo for more.

© arnold jay smith, Oct. 2012










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