We mourn the loss of Leon Breeden, former chair of the UNT Jazz Studies Program and director of the One O'Clock Lab Band, who passed away on Aug. 11, 2010 in Dallas. He was 88.
The first time I saw Leon Breeden was at the Concord Hotel in the Catskill Mountains, just north of New York City. Dr. Breeden was invited to conduct the New York All-State Jazz Band. It was an outstanding concert, and the students were thrilled to play for the director of the North Texas One O’ Clock Lab Band. I also remember some of his interesting and humorous comments to the students during the evening. Although I didn’t get to meet Dr. Breeden that night, I remember that he described Denton to the audience as a dusty little Texas town with a music school filled with great talent and dedicated faculty. He had an engaging and rural humor about him that could easily disguise the intensity he gave to his work. During my early years at North Texas, Leon was generous in his help, and made himself available to smooth my transition into the position. I quickly understood that Leon Breeden’s vision, perseverance and dedication to jazz education created the backbone of the legendary North Texas Jazz program, which remains the model for university and college jazz programs throughout the world.
Neil Slater, Professor Emeritus
Director, One O’ Clock Lab Band and
Chair, Division of Jazz Studies, Retired