Philadelphia’s Dreambox Media, the musician-run independent label formed in 1986 by drummer Jim Miller and vocalist Suzanne Cloud, celebrates its 20th anniversary this month with the Birdhouse Project’s Free Bird. As fiercely autonomous as it was when it commenced, the label’s vision remains to preserve, document and promote jazz traditions in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley region, specifically to emphasize talented and under-recorded musicians.
Before Dreambox officially started, Miller owned Encounter Records, which became Dreambox when Cloud-at the time a frustrated musician looking for a reliable label-joined. Since then, they’ve set an example for all aspiring independent labels by maintaining their vision and remaining honest. Their once-diminutive roster has grown to over 50 artists, including guitarists Alex Domschot and Brian Betz, drummers Tom Cohen and Craig McIver, trumpeters Bill Lacy and George Rabbai, and saxophonists Denis DiBlasio and Bobby Zankel, as well as the groups Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble, Mars 2 Earth (whose personnel consists of free-jazz legends Byard Lancaster and Toshi Makihara) and the Birdhouse Project.