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Record Label Profiles

Arbors Records

By Published: June 10, 2004
Domber, a board member of the American Federation of Jazz Societies, and fellow board member Maurice Lawrence, came up with the concept of a “senior tour” of jazz musicians similar to the senior golf tour. The Statesmen of Jazz, Inc., a not-for-profit group was formed in 1994 to provide work for the musicians and educational clinics for schools. The original lineup was saxophonists Benny Waters and Buddy Tate, trumpeters Clark Terry and Joe Wilder, trombonist Al Grey, violinist Claude “Fiddler” Williams, bassist Milt Hinton, pianist Jane Jarvis and drummer Panama Francis. Trombonist Grey proposed creating a CD to sell to fund the organization, and in 1995 Arbors put it out.

As the musicians in the original group died off, so did the program, until a board member left a bequest that allowed them to fund a revival. A Multitude of Stars , their latest Arbors two-CD release features some 40-odd musicians in a variety of settings. Original members Terry, Wilder and Jarvis are still in the group, with Terry serving as musical director. One thing has changed: the minimum age requirement of 65 has been eliminated.

“We dropped the age requirement for the Statesmen,” Domber said. “We found the older musicians, believe it or not, didn’t want to be identified with their age, didn’t want to be indentified with a group of seniors,” added Domber, who himself is 76. “Plus the fact that we found there were advantages to combining younger and older musicians on the stage at the same time. Now we have people like [trombonist] Wycliffe Gordon and [saxophonist/clarinetist] Ken Peplowski and [guitarist] Howard Alden, who certainly aren’t in their 60s.”

Aside from the usual albums, Domber said future Arbors projects may include horn players with string sections, although he declined to name specific artists or arrangers. “We’re looking to put some of our premier musicians into different and complementary kinds of settings.”

While mainstays of swing and bop are well into their golden years, Arbors is finding a new generation to record, either as leaders or sidemen. Recent releases include work by 45-year-old vibraphonist Chuck Redd and 30-something trombonists Gordon and John Allred.

“More and more younger musicians are playing this kind of music,” Domber said. “They like melody, they like the swing. In terms of the audiences, that’s one of the things that the Statesmen is trying to do. We’re trying to interest younger audiences in the music. That’s why we go into the schools. We’ve found that a lot of the kids, when exposed to the music, will like it. One of the problems we have is that the bulk of the media is looking for what they consider to be “cutting edge” kinds of things. They don’t want to promote what they also consider to be ‘old fashioned’ music.”

“But music is music,” Domber said. “Good music is always going to be good music.”

Visit Arbors Records on the web at .

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