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Chris Jasper - 'Inspired'
Chris Jasper's contribution to soul music is almost beyond words. Though his name may not be so familiar to younger generations, he has had a major hand in creating some of the genre's most popular all time tunes which are still played and enjoyed by a vast audience of all ages. This extensive list includes such iconic titles as 'Who's That Lady', 'For The Love Of You', 'Summer Breeze', 'Harvest For The World', 'Between The Sheets' and 'Caravan Of Love'. The word that links all of these soulful classics is 'Isley'. You see Chris Jasper was a key member of the legendary Isley Brothers during their most productive and successful period, from 1973's '3+3' album right through to the 1983 slow jam epic 'Between The Sheets' set.

His path to music was pretty much set at an early age. At only 7 years old he began studying classical piano and after graduating high school in Cincinnati, Ohio moved to New York where he eventually received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music composition. By chance the Jasper and Isley families lived in the same apartment block in Cincinnati and Chris' sister married Rudolph Isley , one third of the original Isley Brothers singing trio, the other two being Ronald and O'Kelly. Chris formed a group with the two younger Isley brothers, he would be on keyboards while Ernie played guitar and Marvin played the bass. Here were the beginnings of a magical musical journey. Though Chris would play on the Isley Brother's 1969 breakout 'It's Your Thing' album, it would be 4 years later, in 1973 when The Isley Brothers re-introduced themselves to the world officially as a 6-man self contained outfit that Chris Jasper and his talents would really shine.

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Ernie Isley Chris Jasper Marvin Isley
The '3+3' album began a golden capsule of soul and funk gems throughout the 70's and into the 80's and there is no doubt that Chris Jasper was a major architect in their creation. His expert musical arrangements, alongside his superior dexterity on the keyboards pretty much gave birth to the distinctive 'Isley Brothers' sound. That special groove stayed fully in tact when the Isley Brothers parted ways in 1983 and the three younger members formed Isley Jasper Isley in 1984, with Chris taking on lead vocal duties. Again they hit paydirt with the world wide smash, 'Caravan Of Love'. The band broke up in 1988 and Chris began to release solo projects which brings us to his latest release, 'Inspired......By Love, By Life, By The Spirit'.

It is safe to say if you love that 'Isley sound', you will not be disappointed in this slick, compact 10 track selection. In an era where soul music is not as readily available in the mainstream as it used to be, hearing these melodic flavours with Chris Jasper's trademark sweet warm sounding chords and arrangement give the overall feeling of the return of an old trusted friend. In reality it's as though time has stood still, but very much in a good way. I should point out that he has not forgotten to also bring the funk to the party. So you know what's going on with the music. Sweet, soulful and sometimes downright funky. His vocals are on point as usual.

I got the feeling that the songs themselves really were inspired by love, life and the spirit. The title track 'Inspired' is a beautiful ode showing love and gratitiude to that special lady, as is the gorgeous 'Any Day' and the bouncy 'Someone'. You can tell that Chris is conscious of what is happening in the world today and wants to help make a change for the better, as is displayed in the cool funk of 'Keep Believin' - the intro to the song opens with him saying "Alright...put down those guns and pick up those books" Amen to that!!! Speaking of which the r&b gospel tinged 'Faith' has a haunting melody that lingers. Praise is given in the lilting 'Only The Lord Can Do That'. The whole album delivers a wonderful listening experience, but for me one track that refuses to leave me is the uplifting heart warming 'In My Dream' with it's positive outlook for the future. All in all, the record is wonderful nourishment for all searching to feed their soul with the real deal.

I have included the title song 'Inspired' on youtube for your listening pleasure.

'Inspired' is on Gold City Music is available right now at iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.
 

Chris Jasper - Inspired

          
Chris Jasper - Inspired
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Golden-voiced Chris Jasper has long been a firm favorite of discerning soul fans. Having studied music composition at the famed Juilliard School of music, Jasper joined the ranks of the pioneering soul outfit, The Isley Brothers, making his first appearance on their 1969 breakthrough album, It’s Our Thing. This highly-influential album brought the group instant pop success and included the self-affirming and million selling, “It’s your Thing,” a muscular and horn-drenched soul work-out that not only secured the group royal status within R&B circles, but also proved a watershed moment that ushered in the burgeoning funk movement.

Officially added to the group in 1973 alongside younger brother-in-laws, Ernie and Marvin Isley, the ultra-talented Jasper next appeared on the aptly-titled album 3 + 3 that featured the rock hit, “That Lady,” and immediately established himself within the group as a pivotal member. Jasper incorporated his signature keyboard touches to the group’s eclectic sound and wrote classic hits such as “For The Love of You” and the slinky and sexy “Between the Sheets.” Entering into their most productive and creative period, the 6-man Isleys ruled he charts for a decade with several gold and platinum albums and an array of hits including the electrifying, spellbinding cover of Seals and Croft’s folk hit, “Summer Breeze,” the universally popular “Harvest for The World” and the rousing, electric “Fight the Power,” before monetary issues forced them to split. Breaking away, Jasper joined forces with the younger members, Ernie and Marvin, to form the splinter trio, Isley/ Jasper/ Isley, scoring international success with the buoyant and anthemic “Caravan of Love.” With his soaring voice and the song’s partial-biblical lyricism, this enduring eighties soul classic subtly foretold Jasper’s musical direction. After two I/J/I albums, Jasper became a solo artist who incorporated his religious beliefs into his music on a succession of albums for his own Gold City music label; the latest is 2013’s Inspired, a highly enjoyable ten track album that will certainly appeal to his many fans.  

A born again Christian, Jasper sings about the joys and concerns that affect him the most with warm and soothing tones that engage rather than alienate the listener, thus allowing him the opportunity to convey his messages in a clear an unassuming way. “There’s a new world where the blind see...” he subtlety croons with understated simplicity on the melodic and creamy textured “In my Dreams,” a gorgeous and dreamy ballad that not only makes you feel as if you have stumbled upon a utopian world of soothing calmness. Occasionally recalling his Isley Brothers roots, Jasper funks and struts his way through the elasticated and chugging “Keep Believing,” a stoic-voiced plea to younger generations  urging them to “put down the guns and pick up the books,“  whilst the catchy “Someone” recalls The Isleys’ anthemic “Harvest for the World” and The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes.”

With Inspired, Jasper has delivered an album that is both classic and modern, filling it with smooth grooves that glide effortlessly alongside some of the more mildly up-tempo tracks.  With his subtle vocal nuances and idealistic visions of a world filled with harmony and togetherness, Jasper’s Inspired makes for an understated yet arresting release that is most worthy of attention. Highly recommended

By Garry Moran

 

 

CHRIS JASPER; Inspired (Gold City Music)

Thursday, 14 February 2013 20:16 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

jasperChris Jasper was an integral and key part of the Isley Brothers in that golden period when – in the 70s and 80s, as a 6 piece – they seemed to carry all before them. Chris not only played keys for the band but he also wrote many of their classics, including 'For The Love Of You' and 'Between The Sheets'... and remember too that when Isley-Jasper-Isley broke away, he was responsible for the anthemic 'Caravan Of Love'. Since 1998 he's worked as a solo performer through his own Gold City Music label and that's the label for his new long player, 'Inspired'. The album's sub text is that Chris has been inspired "by love, by life and by the spirit" and therein lies a clue to the sound and feel of the 10 tracker. Chris Jasper, it's clear, is in a good place. He has the love and support of a strong family (indeed the whole Jasper clan help out here – instrumentally and vocally, while son Nick has designed the CD cover!) and, importantly, he's strong and secure in his Christian faith.

The songs on the set reflect where he's at. Lyrically, it's almost all optimistic with song messages that declare the beauty of both temporal and spiritual love (some songs cover both bases) while he also finds time to exhort the values of positive thinking as a path to improvement. That theme is most noticeable on the crunchy beater that is 'Keep Believin''. It begins with the plea to "put down those guns and pick up those books" before developing into a snappy funk item with all the ingredients that made Isley classics like 'The Pride' and 'Fight The Power' so powerful. There's more of that sound on 'Let My People Go' while 'Someone' slows things down a tad - conjuring flavours of 'Harvest For The World' and 'Summer Breeze'.

But Chris Jasper has always been known for his beautiful ballads and there are some fabulous ones here. The opening, 'Inspired, is a delicate piece of work while 'Any Day' is quite lovely – naive, yes... but so heartfelt. 'Only The Lord Can Do That' is the big set piece gospel ballad... gently yet inspiring. There's some great mid-tempo grooves too – most notably 'Faith'. Sonically, as you'd expect, you're constantly reminded of the classic Isley sound... no bad thing; there's one track though that is a little different. It's the lengthy closing item – 'Prince of Peace'. This one's a much poppier piece and dipping in to it you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd hit on an old Michael McDonald album. A great track with which to end an excellent modern soul album.

(BB) 4/5

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 February 2013 20:30

Review Chris Jasper's new Album Inspired

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Chris Jasper - Inspired...By Love, By Life, By The Spirit Isley Brother, Chris Jasper, just released his brand new CD Inspired: By Love, By Life, By The Spirit. Chris wrote, produced, arranged, played all the instruments for this album. The sound on this ten track album is a mix of slow groovers, funky tunes, and up-tempo tracks. You probably know the Isley-Jasper-Isley tune 'Caravan Of Love' and these slow tempo tunes have some influences of that song. When you hear these tracks for the first time you can Immediately say: Oh, that is 'Chris Jasper'. No one makes this sound than Chris.

The opening track on this album is the title track 'Inspired' a very inspiring slow-tempo groover. In September 2012 I already received the second track 'Keep Believin' as a preview for his new album. Back then my words were: Check this sound out. Heavy bass, great vocoder and guitar sounds. The message for this track is 'PUT DOWN THOSE GUNS AND PICK UP THOSE BOOKS...KEEP BELIEVIN''. The third track on this fabulous album is 'Any Day' another slow-tempo one with a beautiful Melodie line. 'Let My People Go' is another funky tune, with heavy bass that last six minutes.

'Someone' is the next track I had the privilege to hear in November 2012. When hearing this amazing track back then I was very curious how the other album tracks would sounds like. I had this feeling that It could be a great album and Chris did not disappoint me. Every track has something, just like 'Faith', 'in My Dreams'. Don't know what it is, it just felt good. The combination is just right. Great instruments, vocal arrangements, sound, and lyrics. The last track on this album 'Prince Of Peace' is an uptempo track and even great as all previous tracks.

When you have earlier material of Chis Jasper or The Isley Brothers, and of course if you are new to them, please have a listen to this album. You will not be disappointed.

Mark Berbiers soulandfunkmusic.com
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THE CHRIS JASPER INTERVIEW ... Part 1

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 19:59 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

ChrisJasper-HeadshotChris Jasper is the soul fans' soul man. In the 70s and 80s he was an integral part of the Isley Brothers and of course went on to become one third of Isley-Jasper-Isley. Now running his own label – Gold City Music – he's a respected solo artist and has just released a brand new album - 'Inspired' (see our reviews archive). What better time, then, for SOULJAZZANDFUNK to catch up with him and learn more about 'Inspired' and his award-winning career. In this, the first part of a two part interview with Chris, we go over his time with the Isley Brothers... but first a bit of background....

CHRIS: I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 30, 1951 and became interested in music when I was around 7 years old. I used to listen to different songs on the radio and play them by ear on the piano. I was fortunate to take piano lessons from a professor at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. My mother made that connection for me. She played piano and my uncle was a first violinist for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In those days I used to listen to songs by Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, and many of the other Motown artists. They were all a big influence on me.

 

You were friendly with members of the Isley family back then weren't you?

Yes, the Jasper family and the Isley family lived on the same street in Lincoln Heights, a suburb of Cincinnati. Rudolph, Ronald and O'Kelly were older than I was, so I was more friendly with Marvin and Ernie because we were closer in age. My sister, Elaine, married Rudolph Isley so we became linked by marriage too. Elaine and Rudolph lived in Teaneck, New Jersey and I'd visit in the summers and I even spent my junior year at Teaneck High School. It was during this time that I formed a group with Ernie and Marvin called The Jazzmen Trio. We used to play locally, at high school events and churches, playing a lot of the popular songs that were out at the time. I played piano, Ernie played drums and Marvin played bass.

So, from Cincinnati to Teaneck... then on to New York's famous Juilliard Academy... what was it like studying there?

I actually auditioned for Julliard after I graduated from high school in Cincinnati and I majored in music composition. Julliard was a very interesting experience because of all of the talented musicians that went there. But because the composition department was rather strict in that they focused on atonal music, I felt that it was a bit limiting for me. I wanted to compose many other types of music as well. So, while I was at Julliard, I heard that jazz pianist Billy Taylor and composer Raoul Pleskow were teaching courses at Long Island University, C.W. Post campus in Long Island, New York. This seemed like a good opportunity to explore jazz and other types of both classical and contemporary music. So, I took advantage of that and completed my bachelor's degree in music composition there.

Take us through that time between graduating and hooking up with the Isley Brothers....

While we were in college, Marvin, Ernie and I were already playing on the recording sessions with the older Isley Brothers. 'The Brothers Isley', 'Givin' It Back,' and 'Brother, Brother, Brother' were some of the recordings we played on. We were about 15, 16 at that time. I mostly played piano back then. The Isley Brothers of course were a vocal trio at that time. They had their own band leader/arranger and a band at that time. We were new additions to the band at first, but as time went on, we became equal members of the group. The three original brothers were impressed our ability to play our instruments and compose original music.

isleysExpanding the line-up, starting their own label (T Neck), changing musical direction (from the smooth Motown sound to a harder hitting funk) and adopting a new look were all major changes – whose idea was that....

The older brothers formed the T-Neck label in 1969 when they were with Buddah Records. At that time, they were still a vocal trio and didn't play instruments or write much original music. Marvin, Ernie and I brought the musical and composition component to the band. It was the older brothers' idea to join the two bands to make one self-contained band.

And the new extravagant look – the hippy style clothes and so on....?

That was what was happening at the time. It certainly wouldn't be something that would work now, but that was the style then. In fact, one of my outfits is on display in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

What was it like for you working with such a famous group with a great history...?

It was a great experience because a lot of their songs would be played on the radio because they had prior hits, so that was exciting, to hear yourself on the radio.

Did Ronnie, Rudolph and O'Kelly allow you to have any major input into their musical direction then?

Not at first, I was playing mostly playing piano. But on 'Brother, Brother, Brother', I wrote my first song, which was 'Love Put Me On The Corner.' The more we played, the more input we had.

You eventually got to write anthems like 'Fight The Power' and beautiful ballads like 'For The Love Of You' and 'Between The Sheets'... how did you put those things together.

Starting with the '3+3' album, Ernie, Marvin and I started to write more original songs. 'Fight The Power', 'For The Love Of You' and 'Between The Sheets' came together in stages, from a basic chord progression and then the melody, and then the lyrics usually came last.

loveAnd what do you think of the numerous cover versions there have been of your songs?

As far as covers are concerned, I always appreciate when another artist chooses to do another version of a song that I wrote because there are thousands of songs to choose from. Whitney Houston did a great cover of 'For the Love of You'.

Talk us through some of the highlights of your time with the Isley Brothers.....

To start with, all of the albums from 1973 to 1983 could be called the highlights for me because composing songs and recording new material is the thing I most enjoy about the music business, and most of those albums went gold or platinum. But I guess, as far as touring is concerned, the 1977-1978 tours would stand out because we promoted those tours on our own and they were mostly sell-outs. And, of course, being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 was a major highlight.

... And what about the lows? Any major disappointments?

I guess the way the group ended was a big disappointment. The financial inequities were a major factor in the breakup.

Tell us about that...

In 1984, the six of us had a meeting. The older Isley Brothers were having money problems and wanted to file for bankruptcy and break the contract with CBS. Marvin, Ernie and I didn't have those same problems and didn't want to file bankruptcy. Because of that disagreement, and other financial inequities, the group had to split up. We stayed with CBS and formed Isley-Jasper-Isley, and recorded our first album, 'Broadway's Closer to Sunset Boulevard'. We were very disappointed when the older Brothers sued the three of us and CBS in an attempt to prevent that album from coming out, but we prevailed and Isley-Jasper-Isley continued recording for CBS.

What do you think Chris Jasper brought to the Isley Brothers?

The three younger guys brought a new musical direction, and most of the songs were my ideas, including the title tracks to 'Live It Up', 'The Heat Is On', 'Showdown', 'Go For Your Guns', 'Go All The Way', and 'Between The Sheets'. The so-called 'Isley sound' has been attributed to the way I voiced the chords on many of the lush ballads, which a result of my classical were training. I would use different degrees of the scale that were typical of pieces written in the romantic period by Debussy and Ravel, which gave a different flavour to the music. And, of course, Ernie's guitar playing added another rock texture to the music that wasn't there before.

In the second part of this interview Chris will talk about his time with Isley-Jasper-Isley and his successful solo career.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 20:12

 

THE CHRIS JASPER INTERVIEW part 2

Friday, 08 March 2013 21:09 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

cj1In the first part of our interview with CHRIS JASPER he talked about his early music career and his ground breaking time with the Isley Brothers. In part 2 Chris goes on to discuss the part he played in Isley-Jasper-Isley, how he became a born-again Christian and, most importantly, his solo career and his latest long player, 'Inspired'. First however he recaps the reasons why the six piece Isley Brothers disintegrated.

CJ It was 1984 and the six of us had a meeting. The older Isley Brothers were having money problems and wanted to file for bankruptcy and break the contract with CBS. Marvin, Ernie and I didn't have those same problems and didn't want to file bankruptcy. Because of that disagreement, and other financial inequities, the group had to split up. We stayed with CBS and formed Isley-Jasper-Isley, and recorded our first album, 'Broadway's Closer to Sunset Boulevard'. We were very disappointed when the older Brothers sued the three of us and CBS in an attempt to prevent that album from coming out, but we prevailed and Isley-Jasper-Isley continued recording for CBS.

Isley-Jasper-Isley will always be remembered for 'Caravan Of Love'- how did that come about?

After the Broadway album, I felt that the group needed to return to a more soulful approach to music. The idea for 'Caravan of Love came when I was playing guitar and working out some chord progressions. I came up with something that I liked and began to add the piano parts and the drum parts to it. The lyrics seemed to flow pretty naturally from the melody I came up with.

Is the song about secular or religious love... or indeed universal love?

The song is based on a principle in the Bible when Christ returns and it will be a time of peace on earth ("the lion will lay down with the lamb and a child shall lead them"), but it is also a universal theme in that we are supposed to love each other and strive to live in peace and brotherhood.

caravanI think you can trace its pedigree back to gospel-inspired classics like The Impressions' 'People Get Ready'.... were you a born again Christian then...

I was raised a Christian, but at the time I wrote Caravan, I was beginning to study the Bible more in depth and I began to gain a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, and the responsibility that comes with that understanding, and from that point on, I didn't separate my music from my lifestyle. The music stayed the same but, lyrically, I felt the obligation to put positive messages in the music, whether it is considered secular or gospel. The Bible is basically a blueprint for how to live our lives, not just a religious book. The messages are just as relevant today as when it was written. The messages are universal.

What did you think of the Housemartins hit version of 'Caravan'?

The first thing that surprised me was how soon after the original release of 'Caravan' that the Housemartins released their version. The next surprise was their version was a capella. As I said before, I felt honoured that they appreciated the song so much that they wanted to cover it. I thought their version was really good and unique in its own way, and I know it was widely received, so that was great.

Isley-Jasper-Isley disintegrated in 1987 – What happened?

Simple really - Ernie resigned from the group so we couldn't continue as Isley-Jasper-Isley.

After the split did you have a positive game plan or did you drift into solo work?

Since we couldn't record anymore as Isley-Jasper-Isley, I pretty much had no other option but to record solo. I formed Gold City Records, which started as a CBS-Associated label, and I released two solo albums with CBS. I basically continued to write and record music pretty much as I had all along with the Isley Brothers and Isley-Jasper-Isley.

You enjoyed a solo hit quite quickly – 1988, I think, with 'Super Bad' – tell us about that?

At the time, I couldn't help but notice what was going on in the schools, the dropout rate, etc., and I felt I needed to address that. The lyrics to 'Super Bad' are about growing up with some disadvantages, but the way out is through education and self-empowerment, staying away from drugs and bad influences, etc. During that time, I toured some schools and spoke to the students, which was a rewarding experience.

cj2There was also writing and production with people like Liz Hogue and Chaka Khan – tell us about those days...

After 'Super Bad', I met Russ Titelman, Chaka's producer on the 'CK ' album. I happened to be recording at the same studio and they were looking for material. I wrote and co-produced 'Make It Last' and also sang backgrounds on the song. I played all the instruments except sax and congas which were added later. With Liz, we received a demo tape from her manager and I was impressed with her vocal range, and thought it would be good to put out an album on our Gold City/CBS Associated label. It was a great album but unfortunately didn't get the attention it deserved. People still ask about 'Dream Lover' which was a great song on the album and really showed off her vocal abilities.

Musically you've made a series of successful gospel albums as well as pursuing a great secular solo career – how do you manage that split and do you see any conflict. I mean in the past we read that people like Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke (even Al Green) were often emotionally torn between the two genres....

I don't believe a person can or should separate their personal beliefs from their daily life. If you are a Christian, you should be a Christian all of the time. That doesn't mean you can't write a love song, because Christian men and women fall in love. It's just that the songs should be positive, and without lewd lyrics and negative overtones.

Your music comes out via your own label – Gold City – tell us about that.

Gold City Records was formed in 1988 and was a CBS-Associated label when I released 'Super Bad'. After we left CBS, we continued as an independent label and I have produced and released recordings by other artists on the label as well. Gold City refers to the physical description of the New Jerusalem as described in Revelation.

I believe the label's a real family affair?

Yes, my wife, Margie, is Vice-President/General Counsel. She is a lawyer and handles all of the legal aspects of the business. She also sings background on some of the songs and she was in the Isley-Jasper-Isley video 'Insatiable Woman' back in the '80s. I also have a law degree and I am involved in the business side of the label as well as the musical side. My son, Michael, also records dance/techno music and attends college, studying music, film and politics. We released his debut album 'Addictive' on the Gold City label in 2010 and he is working on new music now. I call him my "rhythm-master"...he put down the rhythm tracks on my latest CD. My son, Nick, is a great artist and he does our CD covers and graphics. He is also pursuing a career in animation. Our son, Chris, is pursuing a musical career, and I have nieces and nephews that have sung background on a few of the songs, so yes, it is a real family affair.

jasperNow let's talk about your latest album – 'Inspired' –why did you call it that?

It is called 'Inspired...By Love, By Life, By The Spirit' and that goes along with what I was saying before, that it is all connected. There are songs about love, social awareness and spirituality on the CD. The music is the same soul, R&B and funk that I have always written from my time with the Isley Brothers, Isley-Jasper-Isley, and the music that I continue to write.

Yes, it is a perfect blend of religious and secular themes –was that your plan and does that reflect where you're coming from right now?

Absolutely. I am often asked, "How does someone live a Christian life?" and this album hopefully is an answer to that question. Because on one hand, you have the topic of love and how a person should treat and feel about their spouse, like in the songs 'Inspired', 'Any Day', and 'Someone'. On the other hand, you have questions about how you can better yourself and your status in life, and that's addressed by a song like 'Keep Believin'' which, like 'Super Bad', talks about the importance of education, striving for your goals, and self-empowerment, and denounces gun violence which has become such a big problem today. You also have spiritual messages in songs like 'Faith' and 'Prince of Peace.' Songs like 'Prince of Peace' and 'Let My People Go' have both elements of social consciousness, addressing today's problems, as well as spirituality. So there is something for everyone on this CD and it basically sums up where I'm coming from.

Musically, many of the tracks hark back to the classic sound of the Isleys – hard, crunching funk and beautiful ballads... is that a conscious thing or is it in your DNA as it were ... in other words your music just come out that way?

I guess it is part of my DNA and just comes out that way. This is the music I was writing all along, and I am just continuing to write the music the way I have always written it, whether it is a soulful ballad or funk.

cj3Tell us more about the track 'Keep Believin'... it's the most didactic song on the album... what are you hoping to achieve with that one?

Like I said I was hoping to reach the younger generation in particular in that I think it is information that they don't often hear these days. I want to show that funk can also contain a positive message.

'Prince Of Peace' is the longest song on the set... tells us more about that one.

'Prince of Peace' is first an appeal to mankind to do what is right, and secondly questions how long will various inequities and social problems, warfare, etc., go on, and the answer, which is the return of Christ. Musically, I wanted to have a fusion of pop, a little jazz, and R&B in one song.

The sound on it is a little different to the rest of the album... I think it sounds like the blue-eyed soul of Michael McDonald ... were you trying for something a little different?

Well, maybe it is the green-eyed soul of Chris Jasper. I think Michael McDonald and I had some of the same musical influences, like Ray Charles. But I was trying to do something different with this song, which is to blend several musical genres.

What do you hope to achieve with 'Inspired'?

I hope people hear and enjoy it and, maybe some of the messages can be inspiring.

Rounding things off now, do you still see or have any kind of a relationship with the remaining Isleys (Ron, Ernie and Rudolph ... now a minister...) Will there ever be a reunion? What are they doing at the moment?

No, unfortunately there is little or no communication with the older brothers. I have spoken on occasion with Ernie over the years. I was mostly in contact with Marvin, almost on a daily basis, up until he passed in 2010, and I miss him. So, I don't see a reunion on the horizon. I believe Ernie and Ronald perform now as the Isley Brothers, along with a backup band.

Almost finally – what do you consider is Chris Jasper's biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is my relationship with my family, my wife and with God.

... And biggest disappointment or maybe lost opportunity?

My biggest disappointment is how the Isley Brothers group fell apart, both as a family and a musical group.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as a good husband, good father, good son, and a man who loves and reveres the Lord, and recognized as a good composer who puts positive messages in good music.

Final finally –how can people find out more about Chris Jasper?

There is information on our website, Facebook, and other social media sites, and the music can be found on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, on our Gold City Music Store on Facebook and at retail...The web site is www.GoldCityMusic.com 

CHRIS JASPER'S 'INSPIRED' IS OUT NOW ON GOLD CITY MUSIC AND YOU CAN FIND A FULL REVIEW IN OUR REVIEWS ARCHIVE

Last Updated on Friday, 08 March 2013 21:30

 

Comments  

 
#1 RAE RAE 2013-03-09 04:02
CHRIS JASPER HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVORITE IN THE GROUP .A REUNION WITH THE GROUP WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT IF CHRIS HAD GOTTEN THE RESPECT HE LEGITIMATE DESERVED.CHRIS WAS THE SOUND TO THE GROUP IF YOU LISTEN TO THE MUSIC THE SOUND HAS NOT CHANGE .THATS CHRIS JASPER .RAE RAE
 

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on Hear It Now Live Radio with Ron Laus.

Tonya Hawley

Hi everyone! I am so excited to welcome our special chat guest..the legendary Chris Jasper. Chris on behalf of the Fans of Unsung...Welcome and thank you for joining us!

Chris Jasper Hello everyone! Glad to be here and "chat" with my friends at Unsung!

Tonya Hawley Everyone you can post your questions in comment--remember you may have to refresh your page to see the responses.

Tonya Hawley Chris--I guess I will start--what singers "inspire" or influence you?

Chris Jasper Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield, to name a few.

Debbi Smith Hi Chris..Thanks for coming in. What was it like touring as an Isley? Are you yet writing ? If so, who are some of the artists singing your songs today?

Chris Jasper Touring with the Isleys was a great experience. I got to play in front of large audiences all around the country. And I am constantly writing, just released my new CD "Inspired...By Love, By Life, By The Spirit"

Ruby Monts Hello again Chris, I listened in on the Marc Gordon chat but i will ask my question again for the Unsungateers...Are their any tour dates in the near future?

Chris Jasper Hello Ruby, we are working out some dates now. Probably the soonest will be late summer/early fall and will be posted on my website on the calendar...www.ChrisJasper.com - Music, Links, News, Upcoming Events for Chris Jasper

Ruby Monts Cool, hope that you will get to my area..

Chris Jasper Hey Ruby, what area are you in?

Ruby Monts Detroit

Chris Jasper Ruby, I'd like to get to Detroit.

Debbi Smith Have you written for other artists?

Chris Jasper  A lot of today's artists sampled the music I wrote, and covers have been done by Whitney Houston, Alliyah, Lonnie Liston Smith, so many. Samples by Will Smith, Notorious B.I.G., Bone Thugs and Harmony, literally hundreds, and an English group, the Housemartins, actually covered Caravan of Love and made it a #1 hit worldwide.

Debbi Smith That's neat. Will have to check it out.

Debbi Smith That has to feel really good to hear and see your music thru others.

Chris Jasper Yes it does. I always appreciate it when another artist feels that my music is something they want to work with. 

Roger Magnetic Young Hello Chris,Are there any projects on the horizon? 

Chris Jasper Roger, right now we are promoting my new CD and my son Michael is working on new music which we hope to release some time late summer. 

Chris Jasper I believe the first stop will be Chicago right now.

Debbi Smith Atlanta?

Chris Jasper Debbi, usually when I book a tour, the larger cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, L.A, New York are included.

Debbi Smith Cool..Listening to "Inspired" on your site. Sounds nice.

Karen Wells Hi Chris, when will you be coming to Chicago?

Chris Jasper That may be the first stop and probably late summer. We're trying to work out the details now.

Ruby Monts Are you looking forward to getting back out there with the fans..and how long has it been since the last tour

Chris Jasper Ruby, yes, I'm looking forward to it. The last date I did was about 2 years ago in Virginia.

Dirk Quartemont here from Kennesaw hello Mr. Chris love our music!

Chris Jasper Hey Dirk, thanks for the comment. I appreciate it!

Karen Wells How do you feel about the current state of R & B and the apparent lack of musicianship?

Chris Jasper Do I have enough time to answer that??? kidding...overall, I would like to see more musicians involved in the creation of music because I think it broadens the scope of the music.

Dirk Quartemont I just bought "The Ultimate Isley Brothers" and love it! Back in the day "Summer Breeze" moved my heart and still does.

Chris Jasper Dirk, Summer Breeze was a very special recording session. It appeared on the 3+3 album, which was the first time the three younger guys, me, Marvin and Ernie actually came out from the background and appeared on the Isley Brothers covers as a six-member band.

Dirk Quartemont What did it feel like when you finally had that tune in the box?

Dirk Quartemont Did everyone just look at each other with magic? 

Chris Jasper Dirk, we were all excited about how it turned out. I think it surprise everyone.

Dirk Quartemont Cool sound!

Dirk Quartemont If you got a chance what artist would you like to do a duet with?

Chris Jasper About duets Dirk, I always wanted to work with Marvin Gaye, and Whitney would have been a good choice, but unfortunately, I won't get that chance. I would like to work with Stevie Wonder as he's been a big influence on me.

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Greetings Chris Jasper....Darnell here from www.TheMeyersMusicReport.tumblr.com. You've been such an influential part of the music business for more years than some of your fans have even been alive. What would you say has been the key to your longevity? And what advice would you offer someone trying to get into the business today?

Chris Jasper Darnell, I believe the key to my longevity is that I was blessed to have a good musical foundation from a young age, classically trained. I would advise young people today to learn as much about music and the music BUSINESS as much as they can before venturing into it.

Debbi Smith Especially the "BUSINESS"!

Karen Wells Why do you think the record labels got away from bands? Cheapness? Lol

Chris Jasper Karen, maybe it's like the reality TV of the music business?

Anne D Brannon Good evening Chris. Great to see you in the group tonight. I loved the 3+3 album, in fact, every album (CD) you guys made with the new lineup I own. Are you still close with the remaining Isleys?

Chris Jasper Anne, I was closest with Marvin Isley in recent years before his passing but unfortunately I rarely talk to the rest of the brothers.

Anne D Brannon Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. You guys made some wonderful music together. However, I am looking forward to hearing what you have been doing lately. Was always a fan of your voice, both in Isley/Jasper/Isley and as a solo artist.

Chris Jasper Thanks Anne, have you heard the new CD "Inspired"?

Anne D Brannon No, not yet...I plan on getting it very soon!

Chris Jasper Anne, you can go to my new website and hear all the music...www.ChrisJasper.com

Anne D Brannon I will do that! Thanks so much, Chris...always looking to be inspired!!

Garry Simon Moran "Summer Breeze" has always been one of my favourites songs, especially because of the wild guitar solo, which was very folksy and rocky, IMO.
And not forgetting the "jasmine through my mind" verse. What was the inspiration behind that verse and guitar solo?

Chris Jasper Garry, Summer Breeze was a cover of a Seals & Croft tune, so can't take credit for that line...just the new arrangement!

Sheldon Taylor Hi Chris, The Isley Bros had a unique sound. You could do the rock and soul. Today the ballads have had a long life. During the group's performing hey day what do you attribute to you guys standing out amongst your peers? Also what was more popular back then...uptempos or ballads?

Chris Jasper Sheldon, it started off with uptempo songs getting the most attention, like "That Lady", "Live It Up" and "Fight the Power" however on that same album with Fight The Power was a song called For The Love of You, which got alot of attention and, from then on, it seemed like the ballads became equally as important.

Dirk Quartemont Was "That Lady" because of a sweet lady? Made me feel like it every time I hear it?

Sheldon Taylor Last question what inspired the lyrics to Voyage To Atlantis and Footsteps In the Dark (read it was Watergate)

Chris Jasper Sheldon, not sure about the Watergate connection. Those songs were originally Ernie's ideas so I guess he could better explain the meaning of the lyrics!

Sheldon Taylor Thank you Chris. I will forward the link for you to check out later Thanks for answering.

Chris Jasper Okay Sheldon, I'll watch for it.

Karen Wells I have always read that you and Ernie wrote all the songs during the 3+3 era. Now The Heat Is On is my all time favorite Isley Brothers lp, so I must ask, what was the inspiration behind the song Sensuality?

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Chris....many of your songs not only went on to be huge hits on the charts but also quite popular in commercials. How would you address those who say artists who allow their songs to be used for commercial purposes are "selling out"?

Chris Jasper Darnell, first, if there are administrators of the publishing, they have control over the licensing of the material, however, having a song used commercially is not a sellout, in my opinion, because all it means is that more people appreciate the music and are exposed to it where otherwise they may never hear the song.

Ruby Monts Besides keyboards what instruments do you play, and which if any were self learned, also what was it like going to Julliard with so many talented people..like yourself

Chris Jasper Ruby, I play keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, all of which I taught myself except for the fact that I studied piano formally as well from the age of 7 and continued on at Julliard, which was an interesting experience...alot of talent there.

Dirk Quartemont I not young anymore, and just an old Cajun Coon Axx, but it would be cool if you could show me how to groove like you guys do. It was nice talking to you and I wish you God's blessing and lots of peace in your life journey. Keep making the soul dance brother.

Chris Jasper Thanks for those great comments Dirk!

Tonya Hawley Chris--out of all of your songs--do you have a favorite?

Chris Jasper Tonya, my favorite would have to be Caravan of Love because it was a turning point in my career and my life.

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Chris...you mentioned earlier that you "rarely" speak to any of the Isley Bros. Why is that?

Chris Jasper It seems that everyone is going in different directions right now.

Garry Simon Moran The verse which inspired you to create the new arrangement. For me it was like a chainsaw ripping through metal.

Chris Jasper Garry, as far as the arrangements were concerned, we were just trying to do something unique and we also wanted to exploit the use of Ernie's guitar playing on that song.

Ruby Monts What was the inspiration behind the new cd?

Chris Jasper Ruby, I wanted to cover all the bases on this album, love relationships, social issues and spiritual messages as well.

Roger Magnetic Young Chris, of course there are a lot of musicians who have given hope/ inspiration. To me you are truly unsung, a great musician who just happens to at the right place at the right time. Keep on doing your thing !

Chris Jasper Thanks Roger

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Chris...your group Isley-Jasper-Isley only lasted for a few years. Quite a contrast to how long The Isley Bros lasted. Why didn't we get more Isley-Jasper-Isley music?

Chris Jasper Darnell, after the Different Drummer album, which was the 3rd IJI album, Ernie resigned from the group, left CBS, and did a solo album, so the group couldn't continue as it was, which sort of forced me to go solo as well.

Ra Shawn Da-Professor Chisolm Good evening Chris Jasper Glad you're doing well and making music. I like to ask you these 4 questions. When did you begin to play synsersizers, what did you think of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam's version of Sensuality, what was the inspiration for composing Between The Sheets and did you think the single would become the classic that it is today?

Chris Jasper Ra Shawn, I began playing synthesizers in the early '70s right around the time we recorded 3+3 album.

Chris Jasper I am not familiar with Cult Jam's version of Sensuality...I'll have to check that out.

Chris Jasper Between the Sheets was a collaboration among me, Marvin and Ernie, however, I sort of coined the phrase while we were in the studio.

Chris Jasper I never thought it would be sampled the way it was!

Ra Shawn Da-Professor Chisolm OK Thanks. It's on their last album Straight's Outta Hell's Kitchen.

Chris Jasper Thanks, I'll check it out.

Karen Wells What would you tell a new artist about managing their finances?

Chris Jasper Karen, first, don't let anyone else handle your money! And, if you don't have a good understanding of finances, consult someone who does who you trust!

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Chris....I'm sure there were many, but when you have time to reflect what has been one of the biggest highlights of your career so far?

Chris Jasper Darnell, there are so many, but the one that stands out for me is when we formed Isley-Jasper-Isley and had the success with Caravan of Love.

Karen Wells And how do you feel about sampling?

Chris Jasper Karen, as I said before, I think it's a compliment when other artists want to use music I wrote. Personally, I like to write my own music because I am a composer and that is one of the joys I have in this business.

Dirk Quartemont I had to let you know that I found Summer Breeze in Onsong and already gave it a shot playing it. I don't sound anything like you guys, but it takes me back to the place I was in back then. Thanks for the great memories!

Garry Simon Moran When I first listened to the album the style of Michael McDonald immediately came to mind. Do other artists inspire you to write?

Chris Jasper Garry, several people have commented on my style and Michael McDonald. I heard that he was influenced by Ray Charles, like I was, and they may account for the occasional similarities.

Chris Jasper Garry, overall I am inspired by good music.

Ra Shawn Da-Professor Chisolm Excellent quote about being business minded and sampling. Also a group called RPM 2000 had sampled Voyage To Atlantis for their single U Don't Really Know on their 2000 album Peace In The City.

Chris Jasper Ra Shawn, there are literally hundreds of samples of the music...hard to keep track!

Karen Wells Will we ever get to see you perform onThe Spirit or Trumpet Awards?

Chris Jasper Karen, If I'm asked, I'll be there!

Roger Magnetic Young "Say you will" and "Here we go again" Are you credited for any of the composing?

Chris Jasper Roger, those two songs were my original ideas.

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Chris...talk to us a little bit about how/when the guy who coined the phrase "between the sheets" became involved in gospel/inspirational music?

Chris Jasper Darnell, when I say "Caravan of Love" was a turning point, that's one of the things that changed. Same music as always but more positive lyrics from then on.

Chris Jasper P.S. Darnell, I got married the next day after recording Between The Sheets.

Darnell Meyers-Johnson And what inspired that change?

Chris Jasper Darnell..the Word of God and my wife!

Ra Shawn Da-Professor Chisolm I know. When I was writing for my college publication I received a copy of their CD and enjoyed how they sampled your classic. It's great to see that you're still making music in 2013. Especially now that where many artists who came from the era has to release music independently due to the ageism. Strive for Excellence and keep on making great music

Chris Jasper Ra Shawn, I think (and hope) that great music is making a comeback.

Ra Shawn Da-Professor Chisolm It is there are many music lovers who are in their early 20' who appreciate the music from the 1970's more than today's music which shows that the classics will never go out of style

Chris Jasper I believe good music is timeless!

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Chris...when you're not hard at work being a musical genius, what are you like at home when you're in chill mode? Any hobbies?

Chris Jasper Darnell, yes, my hobby is landscaping my property, hanging out with my family, my wife and sons.

Karen Wells When you write a song, what comes to you first, the lyrics or the melody?

Chris Jasper Karen, most of the time, I will get a chord progression that I like first, then the melody, then the lyrics.

Chris Jasper Not all the time in that order.

Shawn Hawley Mr. Jasper, I hear that your son is in the music business now; does he currently have a CD out now?

Chris Jasper Shawn, yes, Michael is working on new music now. He is 19. He released his first CD 2 years ago called "Addictive" which can be found on our label website...www.GoldCityMusic.com

Darnell Meyers-Johnson Chris...we know these kind of stories exist so I gotta ask...is there a hit song out there that you were a part of creating that you never got credit for? 

Chris Jasper Well, Ernie and I wrote all of the Isley music from 1973 to 1983 until the breakup, but all six names take credit.

Chris Jasper Ernie, Marvin and I recorded all of the music and put down the guide vocals too.

Roger Magnetic Young Earlier you had mentioned you would like to work with Stevie Wonder is there a possibility of that happening?

Chris Jasper If I get a call from Stevie, we'll definitely hook up!

Garry Simon Moran Chris, you're head must be spinning with all these questions! But it must be a nice feeling from an artists point of view that there are fans out there who think enough of you and your music to want to know what it is that inspires you as an artist?

Chris Jasper Yes Garry, I don't mind at all. I really appreciate it when people are interested in the music and if not for the fans, it wouldn't be possible to continue.

Karen Wells I have to ask, what was the craziest thing you have seen in the music business.

Chris Jasper Among the brothers...no comment...

Ruby Monts You mentioned earlier that you have a son Michael in the business, do you have any more in the business or that would like to be and second what type of music is Michael into..I will be heading to the website to give a listen later

Chris Jasper Ruby, he records dance, techno, a variety...thanks!

Sheldon Taylor With the business models a lot different in the '70s and 80's how were R&B bands able to make it in the business when they didn't own their publishing?

Chris Jasper Sheldon, that would take a long response, but unfortunately, many did not make it...So, as I say in "Keep Believin'"...Own what you make!

Tonya Hawley Thank you so much Mr. Jasper for taking some time out of your schedule to chat with us. I hope you will come back and visit in the near future! Please leave us with your website and where we can purchase your CD.

Garry Simon Moran Yes, thank you indeed! I absolutely love this album and I hope it does big business for you as you surely deserve it. I hope it inspires many people in their endeavours.

Chris Jasper Tonya, the CD is available through the links on my website, www.ChrisJasper.com, links to cdbaby.com, amazon.com, iTunes, all the usual places. Everyone can find me on facebook at facebook.com/chris.h.jasper. And, here is a link to "Inspired" video put up by the Jazzelicious Music Group for all to enjoy...http://youtu.be/C8J0FwXXPUU

Chris Jasper Goodnight all. I will try to post this chat on my website if possible. www.ChrisJasper.com

soulwalking

2000-2013

• Saturday, 10 -May-2013 •

.Soulwalking.co.uk

listen out for 2013... 

Chris Jasper’s album I am a little late with in reviewing. Thankfully, the man sent this fine new album to me, personally, so I thank him for taking the time to do so. As you all know, Chris was a huge songwriting contributor and partner in Soul with the Isley Brothers ensemble.

When you hear a tune, penned by Chris, you can hear how much influence this man had in the Isley’s curriculum vitae. I mentioned the term ‘songsmith’ in the previous review, and I will use the term again with Chris in mind. He is certainly an expert writer all told. Chris is classically trained and is very much at home writing either hefty protest funk sides, or the tenderest of Soul ballads.

   This latest album showcases both sides of the Chris Jasper writing skill set. ‘Keep Believin’ and ‘Let My People Go’ beautifully illustrate his social awareness, and his aspiration for a better society and a better world. ‘Inspired: By Love, By Life, By the Spirit’. When the mood changes, the midtempo and downtempo tracks illustrate his ability to write, simply a great song. Check ‘Any Day’, ‘Faith’, ‘In My Dream’ or ’Someone’, all of which could have been written and recorded anytime during the last 20 years. Chris’s music has a timeless quality, and the world is a better place for that fact.

Amazes me that this album takes Chris into double figure for solo releases. No bad albums in any of those CD’s either. He is one of the few artists who could contain a kite mark of quality for every album release. A quick thank you to Chris’s wife, Margie, who is the main point of contact, and is always charming whenever we are talking about Chris’s latest releases.

 

~ Toby Walker, Soulwalking

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on WRNB Radio with Dyana Williams & Derrick Sampson.

Chris Jasper's video webchat with Marc Gordon of the recording group Levert on the Marc Gordon Show.

Rhythm and Blues, Soul Music, Uncategorized — September 24, 2012 at 8:09 am  

Something Else! sneak peek: Chris Jasper, "Keep Believin'" (2012)

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If you believe like we do that the Isley Brothers of the ’70s and early ’80s were important in R&B and contemporary music in general, then you must have mad respect for Chris Jasper’s contributions through that band and subsequent projects. This Julliard trained, Billy Taylor mentored keyboardist co-penned nearly every one of their hits of that period and in the process helped to define their sound through his funky, smooth and intelligent keyboards, whether it was piano, organ, clavinet or synthesizer. Next to Stevie Wonder and Billy Preston, it’s hard to think of anyone else whose stylistic innovations on these instruments impacted R&B, funk, soul and Quiet Storm more than this man. He along with the other Isleys were early inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he wasn’t done yet when he, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley left the band in 1984. Forget “We Are The World,” the transcendental anthem of hope and harmony of the 1980s was his 1985 worldwide #1 hit with Isley-Jasper-Isley, “Caravan of Love.”

SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Get our thoughts on key Isley Brothers tracks as we run down some of our favorite their songs in our Featured Artist segment on this legendary R&B band.]

Jasper has since gone on to record nine solo albums, some of them gospel records, following the path of another great soul man, Al Green. Through all the trends in R&B, Jasper has steadfastly remained his own man, a very spiritual artist who delivers inspirational messages with a deft feel for classic grooves in soul music because he was so instrumental is shaping and transforming that style of music.

All of those things are present on his latest track “Keep Believin’.” He throws down the gauntlet from the start, with the challenge to “put down those guns and pick up those books…and listen to what I’m getting ready to put down,” and then proceeds to put down some of the most righteous, fierce old-school funk this side of 1983. There’s the pumping double bass drum beat, an irresistibly spongy Moog bass and a vintage talk box generated vocoder. The groove is nasty but the message is clean and direct, about staying positive and striving for achievement through education…a companion piece to his R&B chart topper “Superbad” from 1987. Jasper does another thing the old-school way: he builds in actual chord changes in the song.

This ain’t no hip-hop, though some of the savvier hip-hop artists have sampled his work. Chris Jasper keeps believin’ first in his craft, because he knows that what he preaches with his music and his lyrics are the things that will endure over time. And any time is the right time to cue up an uplifting, dancefloor smoker like “Keep Believin’.”

 

Almost Hits: Isley-Jasper-Isley, “Caravan Of Love” (1985)

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The best peace, love and harmony anthem of 1985 didn’t come from the composing pen of Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, wasn’t produced by Quincy Jones and not sung by hordes of rock music’s biggest stars. It came to us from Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper and Marvin Isley.

“Caravan Of Love” just missed the top 50 in the Hot 100, but it was pervasive to anyone like me listening to the urban music stations at that time, shooting up to #1 on the R&B charts and staying there for a few weeks. It was, in fact, Isley-Jasper-Isley’s biggest hit. And though the swaying groove of this song bears a close resemblance to the Isley Brothers’ “Between The Sheets” from a couple of years earlier, the topic isn’t about making hot steamin’ love, it’s an appeal for mankind to “join together, with hearts of gold.”

Though credited to all three, this one is really Jasper’s song. He not only sang the heartfelt lead vocal, but the spiritual theme is right down his alley (confirmed by his subsequent solo work, all the way up to the present day). He doesn’t preach, so much as issues a plea for an ideal society where “We’ll be living in a world of peace/In a day when everyone is free/We’ll bring the young and the old/Won’t you let your love flow from your heart.”

Lines like that might sound hokey to some, but the trio was bucking the trends of the time with a Biblical theme cajoling everybody to get along. And when I think of all the even crazier stuff going on in this world twenty-eight years later, I’m left to wonder if we need words like these now more than ever. Put to a groove constructed by the brains behind that classic Isley Brothers sound, “Caravan Of Love” is persuasive enough to rise well above the usual middle of the 80s fare.

Including, yes, “We Are THe World.”

 

Chris Jasper - Inspired (2013)

Mercredi 22 Mai 2013

♥♥♥ Avec Inspired, le crooner soul Chris Jasper signe un très beau disque doux et harmonieux dans lequel il distille sa pensée positive et son amour pour les évangiles.


Chris Jasper - Inspired (2013)

Sur Inspired, Chris Jasper propose un album entre soul et gospel aux textes très positifs qui traduisent l’optimisme du chanteur et sa foi en dieu. L’album fait la part belle aux ballades avec les magnifiques « Inspired », « Any Day », « Faith » ou encore « Only the Lord Can Do That ». La belle voix de Chris, les harmonies vocales et les rythmes paisibles qui l’accompagnent enchantent l’auditeur qui plane sur un petit nuage de bonheur. Et pour ne pas laisser la monotonie s’installer, Chris Jasper alterne avec quelques chansons au rythme plus enlevé comme « Let My People Go », « Prince of Peace » et « Truly » ou le funk « Keep Believin’ » sur lequel Chris sort le grand jeu avec synthétiseur moog et vocoder. L’occasion pour Chris Jasper de rassurer ses fans de la première heure, ceux qui suivaient ses exploits au clavier au sein des Isley Brothers : Chris n’a pas oublié la musique funk.

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on Intellectual Radio with Loni Willis.

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on Life And The Public Figure with LaDonna Raeh.

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on The Inside Groove with Les Dion.

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on The Throwback Lounge with Ty Cool.

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on BBC Radio UK with John Leech.

Chris Jasper : « Nous sentions qu’il était important d’aborder les sujets sociaux de l’époque dans notre musique »

Mardi 11 Juin 2013

Interview. Chris Jasper vient de sortir l’album Inspired… by Love, by Life, by the Spirit. Il évoque ses années au sein des Isley Brothers mais aussi sa carrière solo orientée vers un gospel contemporain et urbain. Cette interview a été réalisée en collaboration avec Radio Geyster.


Chris Jasper : « Nous sentions qu’il était important d’aborder les sujets sociaux de l’époque dans notre musique »
Vous avez étudié la musique classique puis le jazz. Est-ce que cela vous a été utile dans votre carrière d’artiste soul ?

J’ai commencé à étudier la musique classique quand j’avais 7 ans et que je vivais à Cincinnati dans l’Ohio. Ma mère jouait du piano et elle m’a inscrit à un cours de piano. J’ai eu la chance d’avoir un professeur de piano qui faisait partie du conservatoire de musique de Cincinnati. Après le lycée, j’ai étudié la musique classique à La Jiulliard School of Music de New York pendant un an. J’y ai appris beaucoup de choses mais leur département Composition était très strict. Ils étaient spécialisés dans la musique atonale. Moi, je voulais composer dans plein d’autres genres musicaux et, alors que j’étais à Juilliard, j’ai trouvé que le pianiste de jazz Billy Taylor donnait des cours à l’université de Long Island. Je voulais étudier avec lui et explorer le jazz et d’autres genres musicaux aussi bien classiques que contemporains. J’ai donc sauté sur l’occasion et j’ai achevé mes études de composition de musique à l’université de Long Island.

Je ne pourrais jamais assez souligner à quel point mon éducation musicale a été importante pour faire de moi le compositeur que je suis devenu. La façon dont j’ai fait sonner les accords sur de nombreuses ballades lascives est le résultat de ma formation classique. J’y ai introduit de nombreux éléments appris en étudiant la musique de grands compositeurs tels que Ravel, Debussy et Gershwin dans les morceaux des Isley Brothers, de Isley-Jasper-Isley ainsi que dans mes morceaux en solo. Je pense que cela a apporté à ma musique une saveur différente, ce que beaucoup de gens identifient comme le « son Isley ». Vous pouvez retrouver ces influences dans mes ballades, par exemple dans « Highways of My Life », « Lovers Eve » et « For the Love of You ».

Vous avez rejoint les Isley Brothers en 1969 et êtes devenu un membre du groupe à part entière en 1973. Comment cela s’est-il passé ?

Les familles Jasper et Isley vivaient dans la même rue à Lincoln Heights, dans la banlieue de Cincinnati. Rudolph, Ronald et O’Kelly étaient les trois frères aînés alors que Marvin, Ernie et moi étions plus proches au niveau de l’âge. Ma sœur Elaine a épousé Rudolph Isley et je suis donc devenu le beau-frère. Elaine et Rudolph sont partis s’installer à Teaneck, dans le New Jersey quand j’étais adolescent. J’allais leur rendre visite l’été et je suis même allé au lycée là-bas durant une année. A cette époque, Ernie, Marvin et moi avons formé un groupe qui s’appelait The Jazzmen Trio. Nous nous produisions dans le coin pour des fêtes de lycée et dans des églises. Nous jouions plein de chansons à succès de l’époque. J’étais au piano, Ernie à la batterie et Marvin à la basse. Nous devions avoir 15 ou 16 ans à ce moment-là.

Les aînés Isley ont créé le label T-Neck en 1969 quand ils travaillaient pour Buddah Records. A cette époque, ils formaient encore un trio vocal, ne jouaient d’aucun instrument et ne composaient pas. Comme ils étaient impressionnés par notre talent d’instrumentistes, Marvin, Ernie et moi avons commencé a jouer sur les enregistrements du groupe pendant que nous étudions à l’université. On nous retrouve sur les albums Givin’ It Back, The Brothers Isley ou encore Brother, Brother, Brother. Moi, je jouais surtout du piano sur ces disques mais pour l’album Brother, Brother, Brother, j’ai écrit ma première chanson : « Love Put Me on the Corner ». Plus nous travaillions ensemble, plus nous devenions influents.

Il était tendance à l’époque de former des groupes autonomes et ce sont les frères aînés qui ont eu l’idée d’unir les deux groupes afin de ne plus former qu’un seul groupe autonome. Ainsi Marvin, Ernie et moi avons apporté au groupe notre talent d’instrumentistes et de compositeurs et, à partir de l’album 3+3, nous avons commencé à écrire plus de chansons originales et nous sommes apparus sur les couvertures des albums. Ce fut le début d’une série de disques d’or et de platine qui dura jusqu’en 1984, date à laquelle, malheureusement, le groupe se sépara, principalement pour des raisons financières.

Vous avez participé, avec les Isley Brothers, à l’émission Soul Train. Comment était-ce ?

Oui, nous avons été invités à Soul Train à plusieurs reprises et l’atmosphère y était toujours très bonne parce qu’on pouvait voir l’audience réagir à notre musique alors que nous la jouions. Il y avait toujours beaucoup d’énergie durant les tournages. Nous avons aussi été invités dans de nombreuses autres émissions télé de l’époque comme American Bandstand et Midnight Special.

Le répertoire des Isley Brothers était d’une grande richesse. Vous avez repris des chansons d’artistes musicalement très éloignés tels que James Taylor, Todd Rundgren ou Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Cette ouverture à divers genres musicaux était-elle importante pour le groupe ?

Nous avions le sentiment qu’en reprenant des chansons d’artistes populaires comme « Let Me Be Lonely Tonight » de James Taylor ou « Summer Breeze » de Seals & Crofts, nous pourrions élargir notre public. Mais mes principales influences sont la musique de la Motown et celle de Sly & the Family Stone.

La musique des Isley Brothers dans les années 70 était marquée par les revendication politique. Était-ce important pour le groupe ?

A la fin des années 60 et au début des années 70, les jeunes avaient l’impression de ne pas être entendus. C’était l’époque des droits civils et de la guerre du Vietnam. Une chanson comme « Fight the Power » parlait de ces personnes qui voulaient qu’on les écoute. « Harvest for the World » parlait des inégalités entre les riches et les pauvres. Et nous avons repris la chanson de Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young « Ohio » qui parlait des tirs sur les étudiants de la Kent State University durant une manifestation contre la guerre du Vietnam. Nous sentions qu’il était important d’aborder les sujets sociaux de l’époque dans notre musique.


Durant les dernières années, vous avez commencé à chanter du gospel. Comment ce changement s’est-il opéré ?

Le changement s’est produit à l’époque où j’ai écrit « Caravan of Love ». J’ai été élevé dans la religion chrétienne mais à l’époque où j’écrivais « Caravan of Love », je commençais à étudier la Bible plus en profondeur et j’ai commencé à acquérir une meilleure compréhension des Écritures. « Caravan of Love » est basé sur le passage de la Bible où le Christ revient et instaure la paix sur la Terre (« Le lion se couchera avec l’agneau et un petit enfant les conduira »). Mais il s’agit aussi d’un thème universel qui dit que nous devons nous aimer les uns les autres et nous efforcer de vivre dans la paix et la fraternité.

Plus j’étudiais, plus je réalisais la responsabilité qui allait de paire avec cette compréhension de la Bible, et à partir de là, j’ai arrêté de séparer ma musique de mon style de vie. Je compose la même musique R&B, soul et funk qui m’a fait connaître mais je me sens obligé de transmettre des messages positifs à travers cette musique, qu’il s’agisse d’une chanson d’amour, d’une chanson sur des problèmes sociaux ou d’une chanson sacrée. Je continuerai à composer des ballades lascives mais pas avec des paroles trop suggestives ou négatives. Et je veux aussi donner au funk un message positif.

Dans une époque de grand pessimisme, vous apparaissez comme un guérisseur avec un album très optimiste. Quel est le message de l’album Inspired ?

Dans Inspired… by Love, by Life, by the Spirit, j’ai inclus des chansons qui traitent d’amour, de conscience sociale et de spiritualité. Ma musique, qu’elle soit soul, R&B ou funk est la même que celle que j’ai toujours composée. Il y a le thème de l’amour et la façon dont on doit traiter son épouse ou son époux, ce que l’on doit ressentir pour cette personne, dans les chansons « Inspired », « Any Day » et « Someone ». Les chansons funky « Keep Believin’ » et « Let My People Go » traitent de problèmes sociaux comme la violence par armes à feu, la guerre, l’éducation et l’auto-responsabilisation. Il y a aussi des messages spirituels dans les chansons « Faith », « Only the Lord Can Do That » et « Prince of Peace ». Il y a quelque chose pour tous le monde sur ce CD qui résume tout ce que je suis et tout ce en quoi je crois. Musicalement, je voulais mélanger de la pop avec un peu de jazz et du R&B.

Inspired est un album très doux avec de belles ballades. Est-ce que cette douceur reflète votre état d’esprit actuel ?

En ce qui concerne les ballades, comme je l’ai dit, il s’agit toujours de la même musique, celle que j’ai écrite tout au long de ma carrière. Je continue à composer de la même façon qu’avant qu’il s’agisse de ballades sentimentales ou de funk. La seul différence réside dans le contenu du message qui est positif et reflète effectivement mon état d’esprit.

Il y a une chanson très funky intitulée « Keep Believin’ ». Est-ce un cadeau pour les fans de la première heure ou aimez-vous toujours jouer de la musique funk ?

J’aimerais toujours écrire et jouer de la musique funk et j’espère qu’elle sera appréciée aussi bien par les fans de la première heure que par les nouvelles générations.

Avez-vous prévu des concerts en Europe ?

J’adorerais faire une tournée en Europe et j’espère bien en avoir l’occasion. Ma femme Magie et moi avons visité Paris en 1989 et nous avons beaucoup aimé cette ville et aimerions vraiment y retourner.

Votre fils Michael est musicien lui aussi et vous avez travaillé avec lui sur son premier album. Pensez-vous qu’il est plus difficile de réussir dans la musique de nos jours ?

Michael a sorti Addictive en 2010 alors qu’il avait 17 ans. Il s’agit d’un disque de musique électronique et techno. La musique de Michael est plus orientée discothèque. Il chante aussi et utilise beaucoup les claviers et les synthétiseurs dans sa musique. Il est très doué pour les rythmes et c’est d’ailleurs lui qui s’est chargé des pistes rythmiques sur certaines chansons de mon album Inspired.

En ce qui concerne l’industrie de la musique de nos jours, je suis certain qu’il est plus dur d’y réussir à cause du grand nombre d’artistes, de la quantité de musique produite et de la difficulté à faire entendre sa musique. Il faut ajouter qu’à cause du téléchargement, il est plus dur de gagner de l’argent dans l’industrie musicale, surtout si vous n’écrivez pas vos morceaux. C’est pour cela que je dis toujours aux jeunes qui veulent se lancer d’acquérir la meilleure éducation musicale possible et, si possible, d’apprendre à composer. Et puis, je leur dis aussi de se rappeler qu’il s’agit de « l’industrie » de la musique et qu’il serait donc bon de comprendre toute les aspects de cette industrie et l’importance de protéger ses droits.


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Boris Plantier

Retrouvez tous les concerts et autres spectacles musicaux couverts par Yuzu Melodies. Plus de 70 évènements en France et à l'étranger.
Réunis sur cette page, des portraits d'artistes venus d'horizons aussi différents que le jazz, le rock, la soul ou la country et qui ont composé et interprété les plus belles mélodies de ces dernières années.
Toutes les chroniques de disques publiées sur Yuzu Melodies. Pop, rock, west-coast, soul, funk, jazz, country, c'est tout le rock adulte anglo-saxon qui est passé en revue.

Chris Jasper: “We felt that it was important to address the social issues of the time in our music”

Mercredi 12 Juin 2013

Interview. Chris Jasper has been king enough to answer to my questions. He talks about his Isley Brothers years, his solo career and his new album titled Inspired...By Love, By Life, By The Spirit.


Chris Jasper: “We felt that it was important to address the social issues of the time in our music”
You had a classical music education and you studied jazz too. Were both of these experiences useful for your career as a soul artist?

I started studying classical music when I was 7 years old growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio. My mother played piano and she asked me to take piano lessons. I was fortunate to have a piano teacher who was part of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. When I graduated from high school, I studied classical music at Juilliard School of Music in New York for one year. I learned a lot at Juilliard, but their composition department was rather strict in that they focused on atonal music. I wanted to compose many other types of music so, while at Juilliard, I found out that jazz pianist Billy Taylor was teaching at Long Island University. I wanted to study with him and explore jazz and other types of both classical and contemporary music. So, I took advantage of that and completed my bachelor's degree in music composition at Long Island University.

I can’t stress how important my musical education was in preparing me to be a composer. The way I voiced the chords on many of the lush ballads was a result of my classical training. I introduced many of the elements that I learned studying the music of great composers such as Ravel, DeBussy and Gershwin into the music I wrote for the Isley Brothers and Isley-Jasper-Isley, as well as my own solo music. I think it gave the music a little different flavor that many people identify as the “Isley sound.” You can hear these influences in my ballads, such as “Highways of My Life,” “Lovers Eve,” and “For The Love of You.”

You joined the Isley Brothers in 1969 and became an official member of the band in 1973. How did this happen?

The Jasper family and the Isley family lived on the same street in Lincoln Heights, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. Rudolph, Ronald and O'Kelly were the older brothers, and Marvin and Ernie and I were closer in age. My sister, Elaine, married Rudolph Isley so I became the “brother-in-law.” Elaine and Rudolph moved to Teaneck, New Jersey and as a teenager, I would visit them in the summers and attended high school there one year. During this time, Ernie, Marvin and I formed a group called The Jazzmen Trio. We used to play locally, at high school events and churches, playing a lot of the popular songs that were out at the time. I played piano, Ernie played drums and Marvin played bass. We were about 15 and 16 at that time.

The older brothers formed the T-Neck label in 1969 when they were with Buddah Records. At that time, they were still a vocal trio and didn't play instruments or write much original music. The older brothers were impressed with our ability to play our instruments so while Marvin, Ernie and I were in college, we started playing on the recordings, such as Givin’ It Back, The Brothers Isley and Brother Brother Brother. I was mostly playing piano. But on Brother Brother Brother, I wrote my first song, which was “Love Put Me On The Corner.” The more we played, the more input we had.

There was a trend back then to form self-contained bands and it was the older brothers’ idea to join the two bands to make one self-contained band. So, Marvin, Ernie and I brought the musical and composition component to the band and starting with the 3+3 album, we started to write more original songs and started appearing on the album covers. And that started a string of gold and platinum records up until 1984 when, unfortunately, the 6-member group broke up, mainly for financial reasons.

You appeared on Soul Train with the Isley Brothers during the golden years of the TV show. How was the atmosphere on the set?

Yes, we appeared on Soul Train a number of times and it was always a good atmosphere because we could see the audience reacting to the music right away as we played. There was always a lot of energy during the shoot. We also appeared on a lot of other music shows at that time, like American Bandstand and Midnight Special.

There was a great musical variety in the Isley Brothers’ repertoire with covers of songs from artists who are not soul artists like James Taylor, Todd Rundgren or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Was it important for the band to open its repertoire to a great variety of music? And why? And what were the influences of the band?

We felt that by covering songs by popular artists, like James Taylor’s “Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”, and “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts, that it might open us up to a new audience. A big influence for me was the music of Motown and Sly & The Family Stone.

There was a political element in the music of the Isley Brothers in the 70s. Was it important for the band?

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, young people felt like they didn’t have a voice. It was the era of Civil Rights and the Vietnam War. A song like “Fight The Power” was addressing the fact that people wanted to be heard. “Harvest for the World” talked about the inequality between the rich and the poor. And we covered the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song “Ohio” that addressed the shooting of the students at Kent State University during a Vietnam War protest. We felt that it was important to address the social issues of the time in our music.


Over the past years, you have been singing gospel. Did something happen within you that made you feel like singing gospel?

Yes, around the time I wrote “Caravan of Love.” Although I was raised a Christian, at the time I wrote “Caravan”, I was beginning to study the Bible more in depth and I began to gain a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. “Caravan” is based on a principle in the Bible when Christ returns and it will be a time of peace on earth ("the lion will lay down with the lamb and a child shall lead them"), but it is also a universal theme in that we are supposed to love each other and strive to live in peace and brotherhood.

So, as I studied more, I became aware of the responsibility that comes with that understanding, and from that point on, I didn't separate my music from my lifestyle. I compose the same R&B, soul and funk music that I am known for, but I feel obligated to put positive messages in the music, whether it is a love song, a song about social issues, or a spiritual song. I will still write a lush ballad, but without overly suggestive or negative lyrics. I also want to bring the funk with a positive message.

In a period of increasing pessimism, you appear as a healer with a very optimistic album. What is the message of the Inspired album?

In Inspired...By Love, By Life, By The Spirit, I included songs about love, social awareness and spirituality. The music is the same soul, R&B and funk that I have always written. There is the topic of love and how a person should treat and feel about their husband or wife, like in the songs “Inspired,” “Any Day,” and “Someone.” And funky songs like “Keep Believin'” and “Let My People Go” address social issues, like gun violence, war, education, and self-empowerment. There are also spiritual messages in songs like “Faith” “Only The Lord Can Do That” and “Prince of Peace.” There is something for everyone on this CD and it basically sums up who I am and what I believe. Musically, I wanted to have a fusion of pop, a little jazz, and R&B in one album.

Inspired is a very smooth album with beautiful ballads. Is this smoothness a reflection of your state of mind?

As far as the ballads, like I said, this is the same music I was writing throughout my career and I am just continuing to write the music the way I have always written it, whether it is a soulful ballad or funk. The only difference is the content of the message, which is positive and does reflect my state of mind.

There is a very funky song titled “Keep Believin.’” Is it a gift for the old time fans or did you still enjoy playing funky music?

I will always enjoy writing and playing funky music, and I hope that it is well-received by the old time fans as well as the newer generation.

Do you plan to tour in Europe?

I would love to tour Europe and look forward to the opportunity. My wife, Margie, and I visited Paris in 1989 and absolutely loved it and would love to return.

Your son Michael is a musician too and you have worked with him on his first album. Do you think it is more difficult to succeed in the music business nowadays?

Michael released an electronic/techno CD Addictive in 2010 when he was 17 years old. He is working on new music now while also attending college. Michael’s music is more club-oriented and he also sings and uses a lot of keyboards and synthesizers in his music. He is very good with rhythms and he laid down some of the rhythm tracks for my “Inspired” CD.

As far as the music business nowadays, I do think it is harder because of the number of artists and amount of music that is out there and the difficulty of getting one’s music heard. Also, because of downloading, it is harder to make money in the music business, particularly if you don’t write your own music. So, I always tell young people starting out to get the best music education available, and, if possible, to learn to write music, and to remember that this is the music “business” so it is a good idea to understand the business aspects also, and the importance of protecting one’s rights.


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Boris Plantier

Retrouvez tous les concerts et autres spectacles musicaux couverts par Yuzu Melodies. Plus de 70 évènements en France et à l'étranger.
Réunis sur cette page, des portraits d'artistes venus d'horizons aussi différents que le jazz, le rock, la soul ou la country et qui ont composé et interprété les plus belles mélodies de ces dernières années.
Toutes les chroniques de disques publiées sur Yuzu Melodies. Pop, rock, west-coast, soul, funk, jazz, country, c'est tout le rock adulte anglo-saxon qui est passé en revue.

Excerpt from interview with Dan Del Fiorentino, Music Historian for the NAMM Oral History Program.

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on The Soul of London Radio with DJ Lady Love.

Audio Interview with Chris Jasper on Spreaker.com with L.A. Jackson.

AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH PHIL COLLEY ON UNCUT FUNK - AUGUST 27, 2013

 

Sound Check: Chris Jasper: Inspired

Chris JasperWhen one thinks of the iconic group the Isley Brothers, funk hits such as “That Lady” and “Fight the Power,” and ballads such as “Between the Sheets” and “For the Love of You” immediately come to mind.  One of the industry’s highly influential keyboardists and songwriters in R&B music history is none other than former Isley Brothers member Chris Jasper. Jasper’s influence on the Isley Brothers’ sound from the 70s to the early 80s is unprecedented. His songwriting and production skills combined with his artistic weaving of the notes by using acoustic piano, organ, funky clavinet, and synthesizer helped to shape what is now viewed as legendary timeless music.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was also an integral part of the group Isley Jasper Isley, where he sang lead on the chart topping hit “Caravan of Love.” Once parting ways with the Isleys, Chris Jasper created his own record label, Gold City Music, and went on to release music that was more aligned with his beliefs and allowed him the creative freedom to produce his own brand of R&B and gospel music, as well as for other artists. Earlier this year, Chris Jasper released his latest solo project, an album titled Inspired…By Love, By Life, By the Spirit. SoulTrain.com caught up with Chris Jasper to discuss his new music and how his faith plays a huge part.

SoulTrain.com:  Your new album is called Inspired…By Love, By Life, By the Spirit.  How did you come up with that title?

Chris Jasper: Well, because the songs on the album touch on all of those areas. There are love songs, there are songs that address social issues, and there are spiritual songs on the album. The album covers all of those things, so that’s why I named the album that.

SoulTrain.com: Talk about the single, “Inspired.”

Chris Jasper: It’s a love song, and actually there are three others on the album. “Inspired” is just talking about the relationship that I basically have with my wife, so that’s how I came up with the song. It talks about how I am inspired by that relationship and by her. It’s a song that any man can sing to his wife, or a wife could sing to her husband. That’s the kind of love songs that I write now, the kind that talk about true love. I don’t write anything that is suggestive, I just write about true love.

SoulTrain.com: How about the song “Any Day?”

Chris Jasper: It’s a love song also. It talks about that pure love. It talks about if you could just go anywhere in the world and see the wonders and the sights, but you would rather be with that person any day, and you would rather not do those things, you just want to be with her.

SoulTrain.com: What is the trigger for you to write those particular types of songs now? Is it where you are in your life?

Chris Jasper: It’s more related to my commitment to God. Love songs are fine as long as they are pure and they don’t have suggestive lyrics or going down in the gutter type of things for example. You can write a love song without all that. When I write, I want to be consistent with God’s word, whether it’s love, social issues, or whatever. I just want it to be consistent.

SoulTrain.com: Speaking of lyrical content, what do you think about the lyrics in music today? Do you think that lyrical content has taken a downward spiral over the years?

Chris Jasper: Unfortunately, yes. I don’t believe you have to put those things in your lyrics in order to be heard, in order to have a hit record. Historically, if you look back at some of the hit records, “For the Love of You” didn’t go in the gutter. There are a lot of songs that didn’t have to do that. I think sometimes artists think they have to go that route to be heard. I firmly do not believe that. I believe there’s too much negativity out there, and my choice is to be positive. I prefer to provide answers for someone. Sometimes people are looking for answers, and that’s what’s in my songs. My music gives answers, and solutions, especially the spiritual situations. That’s what my music is about to show people that you can be in the world, but not of the world. You can be in this world and not have the same principles that the world has. That’s the definition of a Christian. So that’s my approach.

SoulTrain.com: Mr. Jasper, you have a very distinctive voice and sound. Who do you credit for helping to shape that?

Chris Jasper: Coming up as a kid I used to like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye. I would say those three people had an influence on me vocally. I used to love their songs. I used to be shy when I was a kid, so I would sing their songs on my way home from school sometimes [laughs]. I really loved how they sing their songs, how they would style and phrase the lyrics. They were different from everyone else.

SoulTrain.com: You have been called a synthesizer musician. How does using the synthesizer help you in your creative process when creating new music?

Chris Jasper: The synthesizer offered versatility to me. I grew up just playing the acoustic piano. Then when the electric piano came out I really loved the sound of it; it provided a musical voice for me. Then when the synthesizer came out it was like it had an unlimited amount of voices and tones that you can create. I grew up with classical trainings, and grew up learning how to write music for an orchestra. So it provided for me all of that versatility. Voices that I would normally write for a woodwind section, I could get from a synthesizer.  As a musician I use it in the way that I would use an orchestra.

SoulTrain.com: How has your classical music training helped in your career?

Chris Jasper: I think it’s helped me tremendously; I was able to utilize a lot of the things I learned from classical music in our R&B songs. The chords that I played were a little bit different than what other people were playing because I was using different degrees of the scale that I learned from classical music. The song “For the Love of You” starts off with one of those chords using a 6 at the top, which makes it sound different. Some of the introductions to a lot of my songs are classical, like ”Lover’s Eve,” “Love Put Me on the Corner,” and even “Sensuality.” They all have chords that derived from the classical sense. It’s just helped tremendously; I have used it in “Hello, It’s Me,” the way the chords are voiced in that cover of that tune. It’s kind of my musical identity, the classical sound, with a little jazz too, because I started off playing jazz. So that combination of classical and jazz is my sound, and I still carry that sound with me today.

SoulTrain.com: Do you think you’ll ever release a jazz album?

Chris Jasper: I don’t know. My first genre that I loved was R&B so I think that is where my strength is. I can do jazz, but I think music and the arts in general are best when they are honest and from the heart. If I’m going to be honest musically I’ll probably do an R&B song, that’s where my heart is, that’s where I do my best work.

SoulTrain.com: What do you think about the amount of sampling still being done today on your music that spans from the Isley Brothers?

Chris Jasper: I think it’s amazing. So many artists have chosen to sample those songs. I always think it’s great when someone covers something I have done or samples it, I think it’s amazing. They had a lot of other choices too, so I take it as a great compliment when somebody does that.

SoulTrain.com: You have written and produced for other artists including Chaka Khan.  How do you decide who you want to work with?

Chris Jasper: Working with Chaka kind of just happened. I was recording in the same studio where her producer was working on some tracks for her CK project. We just happened to start talking and he asked me if I had any songs because Chaka needed some for her album and I said sure. I have always liked her work and how she sang so it was something I really wanted to do. Other than that, I always look at the material, I look at whatever the song is that someone may be presenting and that’s the most important thing that will make me want to work on a project, the song itself. Not necessarily the artist, but the song. I’m a firm believer that you can’t be successful with a song if it’s not in the song, no matter who the artist is. Even the Temptations, it took them three years to get a hit and they were a great singing group, so the problem was they had the wrong material at first. I always look at the music first; it’s the main thing that motivates me to work with anybody.

SoulTrain.com: You also have your own label, Gold City Records.  What made you decide to go the independent route?

Chris Jasper: When I first went solo, I wanted to do the music that I wanted to do. I especially wanted to do spiritual songs; I always included at least one on every album, from the time I released “Super Bad” and on. I wanted that creative freedom to be able to write what I wanted to write without any pressure from anybody. That’s the main reason I formed my own label. I wanted the freedom to sign other artists that I wanted to work with and I did that on my label. That kind of freedom was the real reason why I formed Gold City Records.

SoulTrain.com: You have a law degree as well, Mr. Jasper.  When did you have time to go back to school?

Chris Jasper: [laughs] I just made the time. I look back now and say how did I do it? I just made the time. It was something that I always wanted to do, because I wanted to know what the law had to say about what I was doing, especially copyrights, contracts and all aspects of the business. From a legal standpoint, I wanted to be solid in my understanding of how things worked, especially with things I may have run into because I am running a label and wanted to be knowledgeable about the law.

SoulTrain.com: Is there ever a chance that you might reunite with the Isley Brothers?

Chris Jasper: I don’t know. I don’t understand the direction that they are going in, so I don’t foresee that happening, but you can never tell.

SoulTrain.com: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Chris Jasper: One thing stands out, and that’s the “Caravan of Love” project for a number of reasons. It was kind of a turning point for me; it was when the three of us younger members of the Isley Brothers started to be a trio again, because we started out as a trio so this was a return to that original trio. “Caravan of Love” was the number one song from Isley Jasper Isley, and it was a song that I sang lead on, which is another reason why it stands out.

SoulTrain.com: Do you have any Soul Train memories?

Chris Jasper: There are so many. I think the ones that stand out are the ones where we played live on the show. One of the songs we did live was “That Lady.” We had all of the drums up there and during the drum break me and Ernie played percussion. That one just sticks out; we did Soul Train quite a few times.  It was a good experience to always do the show.

SoulTrain.com: What’s next for you?

Chris Jasper: I’m working on new material. I’m always working on new stuff. I’m working on another album, and my son is working on one also.  Both of those are forthcoming. If this album does what I want it to, who knows, I may start doing some touring, too.

For more information on Chris Jasper and his music check out his website ChrisJasper.com.

–Shameika Rene’

Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, Mosaic Magazine Charlotte, or her own websites, www.themofochronicles.com and www.conversationswithmeik.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.

Audio interview with Raven on "It's a Ravie Rave Thang"

Audio interview on Quiet Storm with Greg Lassiter

Audio interview on Joelle's Poetry Palace

Audio interview with L.A. Jackson & Lori "LJ" Johnson

Single Release Any Day By Chris Jasper

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Any Day is the new single release by Chris Jasper from his latest CD "Inspired...By Love, By Life, By The Spirit". In the begin of this year I had the privilige to review this wonderful album. My comments about this single were 'Any Day' is another slow-tempo tune with a beautiful Melodie line. After an half year I still share that line. "Any Day" was rated one of the most popular songs at Soultracks "First Listen" series for September.

THE CHRIS JASPER INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS WELLS

FOR ECHOES MAGAZINE (UK)

SEPTEMBER 2013 EDITION

Chris Jasper - Audio interview on Everyday Living with Rick and Veronica.

Audio Interview ... "On Request" with Tammy Johnson on SMN Radio.

Audio interview with Katherine Waddell on "This Needs to be Said".

Audio Interview

Chris Jasper Interview with Steven Ivory.

From seduction to salvation…Isley Brothers legend now performs for the Lord

Chris Jasper promotes new album, prepares for honorary Grammy Award

Chances are you have heard a well-known song performed or written by Chris Jasper.

Best remembered as a member of the legendary soul group The Isley Brothers, Jasper has made a significant impact on popular music.

Today, Jasper is a gospel solo artist and producer, and is currently promoting his latest album “Inspired.”

In addition,  Jasper will appear at the Grammy Awards Sunday in Los Angeles to accept the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy for his work with The Isley Brothers.

“It’s amazing and something that I could have never envisioned when we first started,” Jasper told the Recorder in an exclusive interview. “We were just trying to do music that could be current and keep pace with the other great artists who were out at the time.”

Journey at the top

During The Isleys Brothers’ 1973-1983 hey day, Jasper, who plays piano, keyboards and synthesizers, co-wrote and produced several of the group’s most famous songs like “Fight the Power” and “Harvest for the World.”

His soulful, classically influenced playing defined popular bedroom ballads such as “For the Love of You,” “Sensuality” and “Between the Sheets.”

Jasper remembers having enjoyable performances with the group in Indianapolis during concerts at the old Market Square Arena, which was demolished in 2001.

“We had some really good shows in Indianapolis during our Midwest tours,” Jasper said.

Formed in Cincinnati, The Isley Brothers, with Ronald Isley singing lead, and brothers Kelly and Rudolph on background vocals, had their first major hits with 1959’s “Shout” and “This Old Heart of Mine” (1966).

In the meantime, Jasper, Rudolph Isley’s brother-in-law, studied music in college with younger Isley brothers Ernie (guitar, drums) and Marvin (bass). In 1973, the older brothers united with Jasper and the younger brothers to form a powerhouse six-man lineup that consistently topped the R&B and pop charts for a decade.

However, by the mid-1980s The Isley Brothers split up.

“In short, the older guys had more problems than we did financially and wanted to file bankruptcy and break the contract with CBS Records. They wanted all of us to do it,” Jasper said. “We (the younger guys) didn’t have to file bankruptcy and it was against our better interest to do so. We had to create a new group out of necessity.”

Jasper and Ernie and Marvin Isley formed the spin-off group Isley-Jasper-Isley. With Jasper on lead vocals, the group became best known for 1985’s “Caravan of Love,” a stirring call to social unity based on Scripture in the book of Isaiah.

In 1988, Jasper began his solo career and scored a No. 1 R&B hit with “Superbad.” At the same time, he underwent a spiritual conversion and became a devoted Christian.

“I had a lot of experiences that led to that,” he said. “When I finally did start to read the Scriptures and understand more about God’s will, who he is and who he wants me to be, my life changed. I put that in my music.”

Coincidently, Rudolph Isley, Jasper’s brother-in-law, left The Isley Brothers in 1989 to become a Christian minister.

Love and eternity

Since the early ‘90s, Jasper has gone from recording songs perfect for the bedroom or dance floor, to songs designed to uplift listeners spiritually and enlighten them socially.

“Inspired” is Jasper’s fourth inspirational album. It includes a mix of biblically based gospel songs like “In My Dream,” clean love songs such as “Any Day,” which is inspired by Jasper’s own happy 31-year marriage, and funky up-tempo jams like “Keep Believing,” which sounds similar in style to 1975’s “Fight the Power” and encourages youth to embrace education and stop using violence to deal with problems.

“Inspired is sort of a concept album in that I wanted to touch on three issues; love relationships, our life experiences and our spiritual connection with God,” Jasper said.

Each of Jasper’s songs has information that encourages listeners on positive steps they can take in life.

“They’re not just feel good songs that say ‘shout hallelujah’ like some gospel songs,” Jasper said. “Lyrics are very important, so I have a lot more in my songs lyrically. Some of those things can help a person with their spiritual journey.”

In the meantime, The Isley Brothers, now featuring Ronald and Ernie, reformed and had a major comeback hit with 1996’s “Keep It on the Down Low,” produced by R. Kelly. Kelly is also credited with creating the Mr. Biggs alter ego for Ronald Isley, which helped The Isley Brothers attract a younger audience and top the charts again with 2001’s “Contagious” and “Just Came Here to Chill” (2006).

Ronald and Ernie Isley will be at the Grammys on Sunday to accept lifetime honors alongside Jasper. Will that appearance lead to a long awaited musical reunion for Jasper and the Isleys?

Jasper is not opposed to the idea, but says it’s unlikely.

“There’s no indication that they (Ronald and Ernie) are willing to do anything like that, and I am certainly happy with what I’m doing,” Jasper said.

He added that being a Christian, he is “not comfortable” with some of the bold sensual imagery found in some of the Isleys’ recent material.

“I’m also not down with the whole Mr. Biggs thing, that would never work for me,” Jasper added, laughing.

Jasper did seem open to an idea presented by the Recorder of a reunion album with a mix of gospel music and positive love songs with lead vocals shared by himself and Ronald. However, he affirmed that he has been busy with another solo project at his New York based Gold City Records company and is producing a dance album by his son Michael.

“I’m really excited about the upcoming album,” Jasper said. “It’s like ‘Inspired’ taken to the next level, and will be both positive and entertaining.”

For more information about Chris Jasper and his album “Inspired,” visit chrisjasper.com.

http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/news/print_highlights/article_f5b8e05e-8511-11e3-95fd-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=image&photo=0

S. Victor Aaron reviews "The One", the title track from Chris Jasper's next CD to be released summer 2014.

Review of "The One" by William Buckley for Soul and Jazz and Funk.

Soul and Funk Music review of "The One"

Audio Interview with Reginald "TeddyBear" Ford on the Comfort Zone.

"Conversations With Chris Jasper" on LCTV...A Video Interview with Chris Jasper

Chris Jasper's audio interview with David Nathan, legendary music journalist..."The British Ambassador Of Soul".

CHRIS JASPER: THE ISLEY EFFECT...Feature article in Blues & Soul Magazine (UK).

Feature article on Soulm8online (UK).

Feature Article on the new CD "The One" by Chris Jasper.

November 3rd, 2014

ChrisJasper

Title: The One

Artist: Chris Jasper

Label: Gold City

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: September 19, 2014

 

Chris Jasper has enjoyed nothing less than an extensive career, boasting 10 solo albums, 12 albums as a member of the Isley Brothers, and 3 with the short-lived group Isley-Jasper-Isley. A renowned keyboardist, writer, producer and classically trained musician, Jasper’s talents were instrumental in the success of the Isley Brothers as he was the primary writer and producer from 1973-1983. He continued in this vital role in the group Isley-Jasper-Isley. Since stepping out on his own in 1987, Chris Jasper has recorded 10 albums, including his most recent release, The One, which continues a lengthy recording career that is likely nowhere near an end.

Jasper’s solo career is a balanced dialogue between his R&B roots from his time with the Isley Brothers and his forays into gospel.The first of his solo albums, Superbad generated a #1 debut single in the album’s title track, but it was this third album, Praise the Eternal released in 1992, that presented a shift in his musical output. From that point forward he began regularly recording gospel albums. As a result, of his ten solo albums, half are gospel albums.

On The One, Jasper shifts back to his R&B roots with an album that’s a mix of love and inspirational songs.  Tracks such as “The One,” “Still in Love,” “Kiss Me,” and “Your Love” explore the many vital characteristics of sustained loving relationships.  But he sparks a fire with more up tempo tracks, including as “Rock the Foundation” and “Man Up.” Jasper’s more inspirational tracks include a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and a hopeful song proclaiming that there will be peace on earth, entitled “Peaceful Again.”  This album is not without religious and gospel influences; for example, the track “Right Now” proclaims humanity’s need for God.

Overall, The One remains steadily within the lane Chris Jasper has paved for himself since his solo debut, mixing R&B with inspirational messages.

Reviewed by Christina Harrison

- See more at: http://blackgrooves.org/chris-jasper-the-one/#sthash.rF0Xq8hX.dpuf

DJ Tarek's Music Mix Show - Chris Jasper Special

Authoress Terry Lyle interviews Calvin Richardson for the first 1/2 hour and I follow up...good talk and music, and Terry also plays a cover of a song I wrote and originally covered, and then slowed down and produced for "Brothaz By Choice," a talented group I produced for my Gold City label, so check it out! Thanks, Chris

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Chris Jasper was born into a musical family. The youngest of seven kids, when his older sister Elaine married her singing sweetheart Rudolph Isley, Chris was made an honoree soul brother, and welcomed into an Isley brood that consisted of Rudolph, O’Kelly, Ron, Ernie, and Marvin. The three oldest Isley brothers left town via Greyhound to New York City on a quest to become stars in those early days of rock & roll, and after striking pop platinum with their 1961 hit “Twist and Shout” they never looked back. Chris Jasper might’ve only been ten years old, but his musical destiny was already in motion.

Joining forces with all of his brothers-in-law ten years later, Jasper joined the group as it was just beginning to incorporate a harder edge of funk and rock introduced to the world to on the 1973 disc 3+3, the smash long-player that contained “That Lady” and “Summer Breeze.” Jasper became the group’s resident keyboardist and electronic music wiz, jamming on synths and Moogs alongside guest stars Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff.

For the rest of the decade, the Isley Brothers could do no wrong as they made hit after hit, combining pop with soul, funk with rock and redefining the baby-making ballad for a generation of lovers. With singer Ron leading the way, they were self-contained hit-makers who were as dynamic on stage as they were in the studio.

Although their last album as a complete unit – Between the Sheets – went platinum in 1983, stressed relationships and money problems split the group. Chris, Ernie and Marvin went on to form Isley-Jasper-Isley a year later, but for a generation of music fans nothing could touch those ’70s grooves made by the original six. Jasper went on to open his own label Gold City Music, where he has recorded gospel records since the ’90s. On the occasion of his recent retro-soul secular treat, The One, we caught up with Jasper to talk about his extensive career.

 

 

On your new album The One you do a cover of Marvin Gaye’s still timely “What’s Going On.” Were you friends with him? Did you ever record together.

I wish we had. [laughs] That was one of the things on my list that I wanted to do and I didn’t get a chance. He was always one of my favorite singers since I was kid. I used to sing Marvin’s songs walking home from school. “Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” “Hitchhike,” those songs he first came on the scene with; of course, those sides with Tammi Terrell. I was just a big fan of his. When he did What’s Going On, I was in college and that was a revolutionary type of record. I just remember the impact that album had on people in the industry. At the time, I was also recording with the Isley Brothers then and it just changed so many things, so many perspectives on how even albums were recorded. We were impressed how the album had a theme to it and it just flowed from song to song.

There were so many revolutionary black music artists emerging during that period. Who else were you listening to?

I was a huge Sly Stone fan. Sly is another one, along with Freddie, Larry Graham and everybody else in the band. Of course, Larry Graham changed how everyone played the bass. Stevie Wonder was another big influence of mine. Sam Cooke: I loved the way he sang. Me, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley used to have a group when we were younger called the Jazzman Trio and we used to play a lot of the Motown songs in our shows.

 

 

I understand that you started playing piano when you were seven years old in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Yeah, I used to hear Ray Charles and Sam Cooke songs on the radio. My mother played piano, and I would go over to it to try and figure out the chord progressions. She heard me doing that and said, “Chris, why don’t you learn how to read music?” She knew a professor from a conservatory where my uncle, who was a concert violinist, also studied. It was when I started taking lessons, that’s when I started to learn about songwriting. He not only taught me how to read music, but also what the composers was doing when they constructed a song. How they would go back from theme to theme, the chord structures and whatnot.

When I heard Music of My Mind it blew my mind, because that was such a unique way to use that instrument. Stevie used it in a different way then people had even thought of.

That was the beginning of my songwriting training. I was studying Beethoven, Brahms, Bach and those guys. Debussy was a huge influence on me, and even some of the Isley Brothers songs, is kind of reminiscent of Debussy like “Highways of My Life,” “Lover's Eve,” or “Love Put Me on the Corner.” George Gershwin was another one; his chord structures were a little different, and I liked that. Gershwin was a student of that same Romantic period. I used a lot of those harmonies and chords on Isley Brothers material, Isley-Jasper-Isley and my current work.

You went to both Juilliard and C.W. Post University in Long Island.

I finished at C.W. Post in Long Island, because (jazz pianist and educator) Billy Taylor, who I admired a lot, was teaching a course out there. The Juilliard composition department wasn’t diverse, they just wanted us to compose atonal music, which wasn’t my thing; that really wasn’t what I wanted to do. When I heard that Billy Taylor was at C.W. Post, I thought that would be a more free environment for me, so that’s where I finished my composition curriculum.

 

 

What was your transition from playing acoustic piano to experimenting with synthesizers and Moogs? What was your introduction to the electronic side of it?

I was actually introduced to my first synthesizer from a professor at Juilliard. Synthesizers looked very different back then. There were a lot of patch cords and it was very complicated. But the way they were using the synthesizer was a lot different from the way we would use it in popular music. They were using it just to create sounds and different approaches to atonal music. That was the first time I played the synthesizer. Then, the more popular they became, different versions were made and they became more compact and I was lucky enough to play on the synthesizer Stevie Wonder played on.

This was when the Isley’s started working with Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff in 1973 on the 3+3 album.

Exactly. Malcolm built that (TONTO) synthesizer. It wasn’t as cumbersome as the one I played in school, but it was still pretty big and he got some great sounds out of it. I guess Stevie Wonder was the first to use that one, because when I heard the Music of My Mind album it blew my mind, because that was such a unique way to use that instrument. He used it in a different way then people had even thought of.

 

 

Mainstream music critics and scholars don’t seem to acknowledge the impact of synthesizers on black pop, especially Stevie Wonder and the Isley Brothers. Not a cold futuristic sound, but something that was much warmer.

The people buying the records were well aware. Listening to “Living for the City,” it was out there. People asked me all the time what I was playing on “Take Me to the Next Phase.” Later, there was Prince, who I really like. His syncopation and approach to funk in particular was a little different and that showed his ability to innovate. Sometimes people get into the copycat business, but Prince took a little of what James Brown did, a little of what Sly did and put his own spin on it. His use of synthesizers and guitars, and the counterpoint between the two things, was really great.

Although the Isley Brothers performed so many types of music, including Todd Rundgren (“Hello It’s Me”) and Seals & Croft (“Summer Breeze”) covers, you’re usually referred as a funk band. How do you define funk?

Funk has to have a feeling. I don’t think you can play funk without touch sensitivity. Plenty of times I have heard guys playing who thought what they were doing were funk, but it wasn’t, because they don’t have the touch. Larry Graham is the perfect example of a guy who has an extremely good touch, you can feel it. Lewis Johnson (the Brother’s Johnson) is another good example. You can’t really teach that, you have to have it in you. You got to live it. It’s not just about taking bass lessons, you gotta live funk a little bit.

 

 

Although my mom played the Isley Brothers when I was growing-up, my consciousness of the group wasn’t until “Fight the Power” from The Heat Is On (1975) came out. I think I got slapped in the mouth for screaming “Bullshit!” like Ron Isley does in the song.

[laughs] I’ve heard stories about that. None of us knew that word was going to be said in the song. The original word was “nonsense.” That was what was on the page. When Ron said “bullshit” instead, everybody just stopped and looked at each other like, “Oh no, what did he say?” We talked about it, and I said, “Well, that’s what everyone is thinking though. That’s what on the minds of people, the bullshit.” We did an edited version, and put a beep in there. When it was released, the first station I heard it on was WABC in New York, which didn’t play that many black records; the station did their own edit. That’s when I knew we had a hit.

The engineer had miked everything wrong; when Malcolm Cecil walked into the studio, we told him we have to do this whole thing over again.

That particular album, The Heat Is On, didn’t start out that good. We used to record everything in New York and these albums starting with 3+3 and ending with Harvest for the World, we recorded those at the Record Plant in L.A. The way we record, me, Ernie and Marvin would go in first and do the track. So, we got there and the drums were set up wrong. The engineer had miked everything wrong; when Malcolm Cecil walked into the studio, we told him we have to do this whole thing over again, so we didn’t even know if we were going to record that first day, but they soon as they got everything straight. It was still a slow start, but it turned out great.

Did the Isley’s do a lot of pre-production?

We rehearsed a lot in New York before we left. We had a four-track recorder and we would put down some basic parts, so we knew what parts worked on the rhythm section, the basic track. So, when we got to the studio we wouldn’t be hunting for chord changes and grooves. There were other things, like overdubs, that we worked out in the studio. We also traded off on instruments, and sometimes I played bass and guitar. The whole thing between all of was, if you can do it, just go ahead and do it.

Then in 1977, with the Go for Your Guns album, you guys started recording at Bearsville Studios (owned by Bob Dylan’s then-manager Albert Grossman) in upstate New York, which was where Todd Rundgren also recorded.

I don’t know where I heard it, but I’d learned that the studio up there had basically the same set-up as the set-ups in California. I made a trip up there and checked out the studio. I said, “Hey guys, instead of going 3,000 miles we can go maybe a hundred miles upstate and get the same sound.” They had little apartments up there, so we just stayed up there and recorded. There was nothing around there except woods and trees; no distractions at all.

In the ’70s, the Isley Brothers were known for putting out a new album every year.

At the time, man, I was always writing, no matter where I was. That’s where my head was, that was where my focus was.

What was the Isley’s songwriting process? How did it work?

Well, basically those songs were written between me and Ernie; Marvin contributed ideas too, here and there. We’d work them out together. Some of them were complete ideas, other times we’d collaborate on stuff. Because of my training, I worked on the compositions and production, which I didn’t mind; Ernie had a lot of good melodies and song ideas. Ernie also had his great guitar solos, which gave the songs another flavor.

 

 

The last Isley Brothers album you appeared on was Between the Sheets in 1983, leaving the group along with Ernie and Marvin to start Isley-Jasper-Isley. What was it like to be away from the big brothers?

We just turned back into the Jazzman Trio. [laughs] We started off that way, we joined the brothers and now we were back as our trio. We did the music [for the Isley Brothers] anyway, so it wasn’t that much of a difference other than they weren’t around. It didn’t put us in a spot, because we knew what to do.

Isley-Jasper-Isley released three albums between 1984 and 1987. Their most successful was Caravan of Love, with its folksy soul title track that was later covered in the U.K. by the Housemartins. The song became a Quiet Storm/easy listening standard. In 1988, they too disbanded.

 

Podcast of Radio Interview with Toni Breedlove

Feb 2016

Catching Up With: Isley Brothers’ Chris Jasper

The legendary musician talks Isley Brothers, upcoming project...
   

Catching Up With: Isley Brothers’ Chris Jasper
   
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The Isley Brothers will forever be music industry legends. Their uniquely gifted sound is timeless, whether you’re from the doo-wop, soul, or hip-hop generations.

While most remember Ronald Isley’s soothing voice and charming persona, we have Chris Jasper to thank for the melody. The Cincinnati-bred composer and singer produced a large chunk of the Isley Brothers’ library, and his talent still thrives to this day.

JET caught up with the former Isley Jasper Isley band member to discuss his roots, how he hooked up with the famed Isley clan and what fans can expect with his upcoming project, “The One.”

JET: Let’s start by learning about you. Where did you grow up and what was childhood like for you?

Chris Jasper: I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio actually we all did. We were all born there. My childhood was pretty good. I was the youngest of seven. I was a very observant child and I learned a lot from what I saw everybody doing. Education was important and that’s what I focused on; that was always important to me as a kid, and music was always important. I got started with that at a very early age as a kid, about seven years old.

JET: Yeah I read that you started studying classical music at age seven when most children are playing with toys and climbing trees.

Chris Jasper: I played sports and was out there with the rest of the kids, but then there was a certain part of the day when I did have to come in and practice. My mom was the one who encouraged me to take the lessons at that age in the first place because she played, you know. So I had to do my half hour or hour then I was right back out there with the kids. But I guess the difference was music was still important to me. It was still something that I cared a lot about just as much as I did about sports and everything else.

JET: How did you discover that you actually enjoyed playing and studying music?

Chris Jasper: When I started to hear music on the radio, I used to try to play it by ear. That’s when I first knew I really wanted to be involved in music some kind of way. I was always attracted to it—I loved Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye and the songs they had and music stuck with me. It would go through my head all day long. And I was kinda shy at first, I didn’t let other people see me singing, but I would sing those songs that I was hearing and try to play them on my piano, so I just knew at an early age that I really liked music and I wanted to be a song writer.

JET: That’s interesting. Most people want to be the star. They want to be the singer. But you’re more interested in the creation of the music.

CJ: I was always that way. I studied architecture too in high school and I always liked putting things together—building things, creating new things, developing new ideas. I don’t know where that came from (laughs), but that’s how I always thought. I guess that’s why my role with the Isley Brothers was so easy to step into, because I was always interested in creating new things and that’s what I enjoyed about the business the most.

JET: Sounds like it’s simply just your calling. That was your purpose. If everyone wanted to be the star then who would be writing the songs right?

Chris Jasper:  Yeah and you know it wasn’t until later on near the end of the Isley Brothers’ in the early 80s during the shows, that I started to step out and do singing and that was a complete surprise to a lot of people cause I had been you know…just playing the keyboards and songwriting. That was the most important thing to me.

JET: Speaking of the Isley Brothers, some of your finest work was produced when you worked with them. What’s your favorite song from that era?

Chris Jasper: It would have to be the songs on The Heat is On album because that album really set us apart from a lot of the other groups at the time. It was a number one pop album. It had a collection of fast songs and slow songs on it. You know, it was kind of a landmark album and the ideas I thought were really really good on that album. If I HAD to pick one song on there, it would have to be “For the Love of You.” Whitney Houston did a great cover of it too. Of all the ballads, that one stood out and in the concerts it really was a really big crowd pleaser.

JET: Nice. Now you also have a very impressive solo career having recorded 14 of your own solo albums. What is it like working with a group versus working by yourself?

Chris Jasper: Well working with a group, you have others to bounce your ideas off of. Sometimes, you get input here and there and I guess you can say you feel a little bit safer because you have numbers around you. There’s somebody there to say, “What do you think?” to. But working alone, you have to kind of make those decisions and analyze the music for yourself and I’m just fortunate that with my background, I was kind of doing that all along. But I was getting feedback here and there. I’m kind of used to studying — analyzing. When I went to Julliard, and when I went to Long Island University, that was part of the curriculum. To not only write the music, but when you compose the music, to analyze it and break it down to see if there was something you could maybe add or take out. I was used to that process.

JET: Makes perfect sense. Now you’re still making music. You’re latest CD, The One, is available now and it definitely has that classic sound that a lot of today’s music is missing. What can fans expect?

Chris Jasper: Fans can expect the vintage stuff that I’ve been doing my whole career. I put out a new single from it. It’s called, “Your Love,” and I’m working on new material too for myself for the next project. I’m always working on something else. My son Michael has also put out a new single. It’s called “Make It.” That’s also on Gold City Music, that’s my label and we’re also working on a score of a screenplay of a film. You should be hearing something in regards to that pretty soon. We got a lot on our plates today. The Essential Chris Jasper is coming out too. That’s a collection of songs from Isley-Jasper-Isley and my solo career that I wrote and sang.

Chris Jasper’s new album, “The One,” is available now on his website, GoldCityMusic.com.

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