Sam Belton is a jazz drummer and percussionist from Milwaukee. The business owner sat down with Libby Collins in this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations.
Transcription provided by eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: Let’s talk a little bit about jazz. Why are so many people intimidated by jazz?
SAM BELTON: Because it’s a — I think it’s a music that — that really goes — it speaks to the intellect of individuals. When I say that, people that would say they want to sit down and listen to music that has depth to it. Jazz is not — the jazz is more than one of two chords, there’s a lot of improvisation in it, and there’s — there’s tremendous intellectual make-up behind it. So, when you’re talking about, say, R&B for the most part and some of the pop music, there’s not a whole lot. It’s really rhythm and a few cords behind it and a lot of repetition. And so for most people, that’s easier to listen to than to, say, listen to someone like Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie, and just to name a few of those artists who have been a part of creating this music for the world. So, it’s like, I grew up listening to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, so for me it’s not — it’s not hard listening, I’ll put it like that. So, I think people may be intimidated because most of the time they’re not really educated well enough.
LIBBY COLLINS: Where’s — where’s a good place to start? I know you work a lot with young people and get them to learn to appreciate music, if somebody just says to you, “Sam, you know I’d like to find — I’d like to listen and appreciate more jazz, but I don’t know where to start.” What would you suggest to them?
SAM BELTON: Well, I would suggest for them to just listen and to start listening to CDs, because everything is CD now, or pods. Start trying to go online and look up some of the artists. I would say Miles Davis or John Coltrane or Dizzy Gillespie, and just to name a few, Oscar Peterson and people like that, to just start listening. I would not suggest, say, listening to some of the artists that avant-garde, they, you know, play — their music is very abstract. So, you want to start listening and taking from, say, maybe to Bob Barry with people like Dizzy Gillespie and on through cool jazz, cool jazz with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard. Listen to people like that, Wes Montgomery, and that would give you a good understanding of what this Black culture music is all about.