The 40th annual Sarasota Jazz Festival scrapped all of its main-stage concerts earlier this month because of pandemic concerns, but managed to continue a tradition that began in 1987. That tradition is the presentation of the annual Satchmo Award, which the Jazz Club of Sarasota gives to a distinguished person in the jazz community in recognition of “unique and enduring contributions to the living history of jazz.” In other words: sort of a lifetime achievement award.
This year’s honor was given to Rachel Domber and her late husband, Mat, who founder Clearwater-based Arbors Records. Since they began the label in 1989, they have produced more than 400 recordings. They began with a focus on traditional and classic jazz, but broadened the Arbors scope to include more contemporary and swing players, including a variety of today’s rising stars.
The presentation usually is part of the festival’s Saturday night main stage event. This year, the recognition came at a Thursday, March 12 reception that had been planned to precede that night’s just-canceled concert.
Jazz club president Ed Linehan praised the Dombers for their impact on jazz. “Through their efforts, Arbors has produced hundreds of albums since 1989, representing many classic styles of Jazz. The Arbors catalog reads like a Who’s Who of American jazz of the last half century, including recordings by our own Dick Hyman - an NEA Jazz Master - and (clarinetist and current festival musical director) Ken Peplowski.”