Leon Breeden past away this week. My beloved teacher and friend.
I went to NorthTexas to learn about jazz. Since I was mainly a classical musician it took a long time to make the transition. NT was the only school at that time one could get an education in jazz, classical music and music ed. all at the same time. What I did not know was I wasn't set out to be a teacher, but a performer, composer and innovator.
Leon had such a strong personality and had a vision for the lab bands. It was so organized how he set up the bands, auditions, and placement. I finally found a place were I could learn what I wanted too and had the time to do it. I was very shy about a lot of things and did not understand my own abilities. But this is why we go to school. I came down to Denton with two friends, Jim Robak and Don Erdman.
Leon had such inner strength which is something I just realized how it effected me. We wrote letters and I sent him my lps I made and he put them up on the bulletin board and wrote a short note. Just reading that letter (1958) makes it clear how Leon thought about the development of jazz programs that music wasn't a competition, but was an art to enjoy and understand. I find in NYC it is more about who you know and competition than music. Leon did not like NY for that reason I believe. His standards were higher than that.
I was so lucky to know him and I just realized how much he affected me. Thank You Leon
So few people really work for music, most just work for selfish interest. Leon was certainly not one of those people, but what we call
a hero. Yes a hero.
The big bands have lost their economic power and are just a token part of the music business. I see on Facebook all the time, duos, trios, and not even quartets anymore. The piano players and guitar players take all the gigs from horn players.
I would hope the future of the lab band system would concentrate on expanding the working opportunities, like Leon was trying to expand the development of the lab band opportunities for a musical event and not a competition in his 1958 letter. I am a horn player so it is hard for me to accept the conditions of our present system.
I was in the 65-66 one-O'clock band. I believe. I remember Leon standing right over me while conducting the band, Because I wanted to graduate on time I had to drop out of it the next semester to take some required classes. Leon was upset with me about this. Sorry Leon! Anyway, we all loved you Leon as far as I know.
Sincerely, Greg Henry Waters http://www.greghenrywaters.com/
Here is what I wrote on my Facebook page.
I remember playing for Leon in his office the Debussy clarinet concerto. I did not know he played clarinet. I kept in touch with him through the years. He wrote me several long letters. He had a great ability for administration and I always wondered why he didn't perform more. His son played clarinet and died a number of years ago. Leon had his life all together that is for sure. He did not like the NY music scene. So moved back to Texas. I will miss him and his warmth and love of music. I remember being in his house in Denton and the guest there was Johnny Richards, the arranger composer. We all loved you Leon. A truly solid man!
Conversation with Morris Martin NT Music Lib. Un. of NT, Denton, Texas
August 13 at 7:30am
He, Leon Breeden, use to sit in his office and work, work and work. There were a mountain of papers there.
I wondered what he was always working on!
Morris Martin Indeed, he was an example of someone who continually worked hard in order to accomplish so much with so little support at the time. We have all
those papers in the library now; just beginning a big project to digitize them.
August 13 at 9:14am ·
Greg Henry Waters digitize them. how about my music? or are you waiting for me to die?, haha
he put in 20 more years than I have though
August 13 at 10:12am ·
Greg Henry Waters Since I was in both departments, classical, and Merril Ellis, who was really by himself and the jazz department, the jazz guys would look
at me funny, the classical people hated the jazz department, and Merril's group was up in the computer room with no one noticing them very much. When I
performed the electronic piece with Adolf, the jazz guys would point their fingers at me and shake their head. They still are by the way, a little note of
humor. I even cried yesterday, was surprised about that.
August 13 at 10:17am ·
Morris Martin the digitizing projects take a lot of planning to bring the money, the equipment, the knowledgeable staff, etc all together at the same time!
just got Leon's materials organized enough to get the work going
his papers were VERY organized when he gave them to us, but then he kept giving us other things, and getting other things for us, etc.
the larger and the more varied the collection, the harder it is to get it going
August 13 at 11:42am ·
Morris Martin yes, there are the same isolationist problems, but things have vastly improved in recent years; we try to be sincere friends of everyone
August 13 at 11:43am
Greg Henry Waters I sent my music to you and the American Music Center because I just did not know what to do with it. It has to go somewhere, so it can be
of use to someone. My life was never about wondering about the past but creating more music for the present and I could not find the support I needed. Now I
can put my music on a computer disk in fact, my entire life on a DVD. Google is copying all the books from Stanford Un. I wish I could copy my scores but I
can even get at them. Popular music has destroyed much of what we are in this life. I went to the performing arts library and tried to have access to my
music. They would not let me see it. Have to check it out and pay for the copy. Morris it is too much for me really to do all this. I am practicing flute and
getting better at it. Made some arrangements for flute ensembles, Bach, never did that before. You should have a flute ensemble play at your church.
August 13 at 12:00pm · ·
Morris Martin we will get to you for a digitizing project someday! you have done the right thing to get it to a safe place; otherwise, so many collections go
into the landfill FGS! btw, i think UNT still has a flute ensemble: go for it!
August 13 at 12:03pm
· NT's pictures reviews of Leon at NT by Morris Martin!The many wonderful letters from his grateful students! The Denton News about Leon Great article and video about Leon My letters from Leon
Greg Henry Waters
I got a flute ensemble to look at my music in Texas. They have a huge group and are beginning their new season soon. firstname.lastname@example.org the is is her
e-mail address. Janice Spooner, she was at NT in 1968 in the band. Do you see my last project in New Jersey? http://www.greghenrywaters.com/njflutes
My piece for two flutes and computer is there.
James Scott was very impressed. Bravo he said.
August 13 at 12:52pm ·
Just found out my friend from school past away in 2003. Tom Boras, he was always so respectful towards me and his nick name for me was Dr. Waters. He was a terrific arranger composer and horn player. Rest in peace Tom along with Leon. Just type in info in google for Tom if curious about more info about him.