It is no surprise to anyone that Sam Arlen, as the son of the great American composer Harold Arlen, chose a career in music. Born in Hollywood and raised in New York City, Sam had the good fortune of being exposed firsthand, through his father’s work, to the top songs and musicians in the country. His early exposure to the industry, in addition to a natural talent, led Sam to pursue his interest as a saxophonist.

Sam attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York City and majored in music. He gained practical experience on the weekends performing for private parties and special affairs with various classmates. After graduation, in 1976, Sam continued to perform with various bands at notable New York venues such as the Roseland Ballroom with the Johnny Mule Orchestra, or opening for accordionist Shirley Evans of “Magical Mystery Tour” fame. But his ultimate dream was to become a bandleader. So, in his “spare” time, Sam organized various combos of his own that performed at corporate functions and resorts in the New York area.

In 1986, a life-altering event took place that changed the course of Sam’s career. On April 23, 1986, Harold Arlen died of cancer. Harold’s passing was a huge loss for Sam, both personally and musically. Even though Harold had not composed in some time, the true finality of his musical genius had come to pass. Sam reflects, “There would be no more opportunities for words of wisdom or even the possibility of hearing another creation. It affected me deeply.”

But Sam did not realize how much Harold’s death was really going to affect his musical world. Shortly after Harold’s passing, Sam was advised to set up a music publishing company to continue the administration and promotion of Harold’s vast catalog of music. This was a realm new to Sam given that, up until then, his goal was to be a performer. Nonetheless, it was a world he was willing to explore and so in 1986, he created S.A. Music LLC. Sam continued to perform, but needing to learn about, and fulfill, the role of music publisher, his focus gradually shifted away from the creative and toward the administrative side of the music industry.

Music publishing became a career that Sam grew to love. “It’s interesting,” Sam muses, “now that I think about how all of this came about for me with S.A. Music LLC….how sometimes things are just meant to be. I see the parallels between my life and Harold’s - he originally wanted to be a performer, but ultimately wound up doing something different. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to do what I do. And nothing makes me prouder than to represent my father’s catalogue of music. I’ll always honor his work and treat his creations with the respect they deserve.”

And honor Harold’s music, Sam did. Three years prior to what would have been Harold Arlen’s 100th birthday. The result was more than what he had hoped for – the Harold Arlen 2005 Centennial turned into a two year series of concerts, exhibits, shows, recordings and memorials in tribute to the life and music of the great American composer, both in the U.S. and abroad. To this end, Sam was joined, as co-chair of the Centennial, by Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Michael Feinstein and Marilyn Bergman (ASCAP). Some of the highlights of the Centennial have included: New York City’s Mayor Bloomburg proclaiming February 15th (Harold’s birthday) “Harold Arlen Day” in 2005 and Mayor Masiello of Buffalo, New York (Harold’s birthplace) proclaiming June 10th, 2005 “Harold Arlen Day” for their city; an all-star concert at Carnegie Hall on February 14th, 2005; a national Centennial concert tour starring Tony Award winner Faith Prince and television/singing star Tom Wopat; a four month museum exhibit honoring Harold’s musical career at the New York Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; a Gala Benefit, concerts, film series and lectures at Chicago’s Annual Humanities Festival; an award ceremony honoring Harold at ASCAP’s Film and Television Music Awards in Los Angeles; and an Actor’s Fund tribute concert to Harold Arlen.

As part of the Centennial, Sam decided to contribute a more personal note to honor his father. In 2005, he released his very own CD “Arlen Plays Arlen – A Timeless Tribute to Harold Arlen.” The instrumental CD features Sam on the tenor saxophone for thirteen of Harold Arlen’s songs recorded live in the studio with a Big Band and orchestra.

For Sam, this album was the perfect way to not only pay tribute to Harold and some of his most beautiful creations, but also to get back to his original love – performing. Harold always encouraged Sam and his music, even bringing him along to shows and interviews. “One of my favorite memories of his encouragement was going with him to watch the N.Y. Philharmonic perform his ‘Blues Opera Suite’ and being introduced to Conductor Andre Kostelanetz afterwards. It was my first time to see, one on one, the way Harold dealt with his peers and with the press that were there to interview him. He was so kind and gentle with such a great sense of humor,” Sam reflects. “The Centennial and this album have given me the opportunity to thank him in a way that I have always wanted. I believe in my heart that he would be proud of me and what I am accomplishing.”

As a result of recording “Arlen Plays Arlen,” Sam has had the wonderful opportunity to return to the stage as a performer. He has guest-starred at several of the Centennial events (Carnegie Hall Feb. 14th all-star concert, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Tonya Pinkins, Buffalo Philharmonic with John Pizzarelli, the ASCAP Awards, and the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty with Ann Hampton Callaway, to name a few). He continues to perform and teach worldwide while remaining at the helm of S.A. Music, LLC.

For more information on Harold Arlen please go to www.haroldarlen.com