I am very lucky to have accomplished many goals in a short time. I owe a lot of my success to the versatility of the bass, but mainly to my family, friends, and teachers.
I started playing the Contrabass in orchestra class from 5th grade all the way through high school. I always envied my friends who played in christian rock bands and had a teenage dream of being a rockstar of sorts… needless to say I had to wait until college – I started fiddling around with the electric bass at age 14, starting a few failed bands with friends. With many things on my plate, electric bass did not get the attention it deserved and I developed some “bad habits” without electric bass lessons in high school.
As a 17 year old, I was told to change upright bass teachers, and was led to the amazing Thomas Lederer at Southern Methodist University at The Meadows School of the Arts. Having transformed my musicianship in a few months, the Dallas Symphony Co-Principal was the catalyst for my music career. I then enrolled as a Music Performance Major on the Double Bass, where I was handed a golden opportunity to play electric bass for a Wind Ensemble piece called “Chunk.”
Reinventing my technique, this whipped my electric playing into shape, and word got out that I could play electric bass for a Composition professors premiere of a Rock/jazz Quintet piece!
My first real band… The Quintet for the End of Time – led by Assistant Professor of Composition at SMU, Kevin Hanlon. I was called to sub for a premier of Dr. Hanlon’s piece, “kickin’ it,” for a Wind Ensemble concert (cancelled by a fire-drill). Little did I know this would be my first spot in the limelight as a 19 year old bassist with his first paid gig overseas! The Matese Friend Festival was an amazing outdoor concert in the center of the Piazza with about 1000 listeners. “I Saw a Man” was one of the scariest pieces i’ve ever played! Clarinetist Jonathan Jones wails on a Saxophone and Clarinet at the same time!
2 summers later, still in school and playing in Italy during the summer: With a few members of The Quintet For The End of Time, this video is of a group I played with in Boiano, Italy. We covered Michel Camilo‘s “From Within”.
Starting to feel like I overcame my “bad habits” on electric… I began to play more and more with friends in school and joined other ensembles…
I was very happy to have worked with the amazing Jamal Mohamed for a total of 6 years. This is one of many performances with SMU’s World Music Ensemble led by Jamal Mohamed. This is a Bulgarian Folk tune in 11/8
After graduating and returning to Italy one last time, I realized I couldn’t keep traveling on a musician’s budget. I faced some hardships of reality and had to expand my musical career and pay my bills from school. I got a “real job” at a Hotel restaurant and I was on fire to start my own projects.
After being approached by some friends outside of the arts program, I was asked to join a progressive electronica act called nuggatron led by Mike McDonald of Wizard. (The green strings in the previous video were a clever cosmetic addition to the elctronica act in the same weekend as the World Music Ensemble concert)
Not having much experience with composing electronica songs with nuggatron, I tried writing with just a Nintendo DS Synthesizer…
Another side project that I started was a Jazz group with a friend who had the same last name as me! A little bit of Jazz never hurt anyone!
Please visit the other pages under media [In the above drop-down] menu for more audio/video of Leland!
Also check out to see what my buddies are doing with music in the Resources