JAZZ'S MOST FAMOUS EDUCATOR, DR. LEON BREEDEN
Over the years, I have written a number of pieces about Dr. Leon Breeden, whose University of North Texas 1 O'clock Lab Band played for U.S. presidents, foreign countries' kings and queens, and ordinary jazz lovers all over the world, during his twenty or so year history with the University.
He's had a great influence on my life throughout our 50-year friendship, although I have never studied under him and I was never offered the opportunity to so much as to sit in during a set, playing the piano or Hammond B-3, with one of his bands. That was an unspoken agreement. (I'm a good musician, but not that good.)
We both counted comedian-jazz pianist and composer, Steve Allen, as one of our friends.
Dr. Breeden's former students are prominent musicians playing throughout the world.
Stan Kenton was so impressed with the education Dr. Breeden gave his students, that he donated his entire band's orchestral book to UNT to archive.
Dr. Breeden, now in his 80s, has been living in a retirement home in Denton for the past few years, along with his wife, Bennye Wayne. Mrs. Breeden died a few weeks back.
I got a note today from our mutual friend, Richard Cox, that Dr. Breeden has moved to Dallas.
Former students, friends, and other well-wishers who would like to contact Dr. Breeden may email me and I will provide them with his address and phone number.
Dr. Breeden still plays his clarinet, and more than one person, including another great jazz educator, Jim Riggs, has told me that Dr. Breeden has no trouble playing several hundred tunes by memory.
Dr. Breeden has always been a social animal, and advancing age hasn't changed that a bit. He'd love for friends to call and to come by and see him. Talking about old times with him is always fascinating.
BILL CHERRY, REALTORS
DALLAS - PARK CITIES
Our 45th Year