Chris Jasper – Dance With You
Any serious list of highly influential keyboardists in the soul/pop/funk field would have to include the Isley Brothers’ s Chris Jasper.
Jasper can be heard laying down adept acoustic piano, organ, funky clavinet, and Moog/Arp synthesizer lines on such seminal ’70s hits as ‘Who’s That Lady’, ‘Fight the Power’, ‘For the Love of You’ (covered by Whitney Houston on her multi-platinum Whitney album), and ‘Who Loves You Better’ over a catalog that includes 11 gold and four platinum albums. Most are still in print.
In January 1992, Jasper, along with the rest of the Isley Brothers, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. At an early age, Jasper began tickling the ivories. At age eight, his mother encouraged him to take piano lessons after she heard him play Motown tunes by ear. After high school, he went to study at Julliard. The Isley Brothers and Jasper grew up on the same block in their native Cincinnati. In 1959, the group scored their first big hit, ‘Shout’, later covered by the Beatles, and moved to New York. More hits followed, including ‘Twist and Shout’ and ‘This Ol’ Heart of Mine’ on Motown.
While visiting a sister who lived east, Jasper struck up a friendship with one of the younger Isleys, Ernie. Every summer he and Jasper would get together and jam. Ernie started on drums before moving to guitar. Another young Isley, Marvin, would bring along his bass and joined the duo. The teenagers patterned themselves after the Young-Holt Unlimited and covered jazz, pop, and Motown. While they’d be rehearsing, the other Isleys would walk through and suggest they’d go into the studio. They cut some demo tracks with Ronald Isley singing lead.
In 1969, the Isleys got a manufacturing and distribution (custom label) deal with Epic Records. The ‘It’s Your Thing’ album was the first release on T-Neck (a moniker derived from their home base of Teaneck, NJ). Jasper, as principal songwriter/ keyboardist, guitarist/drummer Ernie, and bassist Marvin came aboard the following year. The new expanded group’s premier project was the ‘Giving It Back’ album that featured a smoking version of Stephen Stills’ ‘Love the One You’re With’. The winning combination worked for the next 13 years and included such albums as ‘3 + 3’, ‘Who’s That Lady’, a sanguine cover of Seals & Crofts’ ‘Summer Breeze’, ‘If You Were There’ (covered by Wham on Make It Big), ‘Live It Up’, ‘The Heat Is On’, ‘Harvest for the World’, the double-album ‘Winner Take All’, ‘Go for Your Guns’, and ‘Showdown’. During this time, Jasper had an opportunity to work with synthesizer pioneer Malcolm Cecil, who was a key influence through Stevie Wonder and his innovative album, ‘Music of My Mind’.
In 1984, the group split and Jasper and the younger Isleys, Ernie and Marvin, formed Isley/Jasper/Isley with their first release, ‘Broadway’s Next to Sunset Boulevard’. The next album, ‘Caravan of Love’, featured the number one out-of-the-box title hit that enjoyed airplay on pop, urban, and gospel stations and was covered by the English group the Housemartins, taking the tune to number one international pop status. The final Isley/Jasper/Isley album was ‘Different Drummer’, and after the group disbanded, Jasper formed Gold City Records distributed by CBS.
‘Superbad’ – not the James Brown standard – was the title of and the first single from Jasper’s first solo album, topping the urban charts. The next album, ‘Time Bomb’, included the hit ballad ‘The First Time’. He also had success with singer Liz Hogue who charted with ‘Dream Lover’ from the Vicious & Fresh album and Chaka Khan’s Make It Last’ from her CK album. Taking Gold City independent, Jasper released ‘Praise the Eternal’, a sparkling collection of contemporary gospel music and a self-titled debut by contemporary gospel trio Outfront.
‘Deep Inside’ marks Jasper’s return to R&B/pop music. A collection that includes the best of the old and the new. Against sheen ’90s FM digital synth patches, you hear classic talk box generated vocoder lines and squishy Moog bass. There’s a strong Marvin Gaye influence and in homage, Jasper updates ‘What’s Going On’.
There has been a flood of Isley Brothers covers. The lion’s share of which is done by rappers. Hip-hop has been good to Jasper’s song catalog. Rapper/Sony artist Da Brat had a Top Five Billboard Hot 100 hit with ‘Funkadafied’, which includes a sample from the Isleys’ ‘Between the Sheets’ (from the album of the same name). Ice Cube used ‘Footsteps in the Dark’ (from Go for Your Guns) as the basis for his hit ‘It’s been a Good Day’. Hornman Gene Dunlap covered ‘Groove With You’ (from Showdown). R. Kelly (whose productions carry Jasper-influenced lead line and patches) produced a hit cover of ‘At Your Best You Are Love’ (from Harvest for the World) by singer Aaliyah. ~ Ed Hogan
If you are familiar with THE ISLEY BROTHERS, then you know Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, CHRIS JASPER, an integral member of THE ISLEY BROTHERS during the 1970s and 1980s—their gold and platinum years—from the ‘3+3’ (1973) to ‘Between the Sheets’ (1983) albums. These were the years when THE ISLEY BROTHERS were a self-produced, self-contained group.
If you are familiar with THE ISLEY BROTHERS, then you have heard the music of CHRIS JASPER, who was primarily responsible for writing, arranging, and producing all of THE ISLEY BROTHERS music during this time, including such beautiful love songs as ‘For The Love of You’ and ‘Between the Sheets’ and uptempo funk such as ‘Fight the Power’. His arrangements and instrumentation as a classically-trained musician, and his expertise on the keyboards and synthesizers, are the foundation of the legendary “Isley Brothers Sound.” When the six members of THE ISLEY BROTHERS disbanded (1984), Marvin and Ernie Isley joined CHRIS JASPER and formed ISLEY-JASPER-ISLEY. Without this crucial musical component, THE ISLEY BROTHERS were no longer a self-produced, self-contained group.
CHRIS JASPER brought his “unique sound” and musical talents to ISLEY-JASPER-ISLEY and topped the charts singing lead vocals on ‘Caravan of Love’ (1985), a song that was covered by English recording group, the Housemartins, an international #1 pop hit. ‘Caravan’ was also used in commercials as part of a Dodge Caravan advertising campaign. He was also awarded a CEBA Award For Excellence for a Miller Brewing Company commercial. The music for that commercial formed the basis for ‘Brother to Brother’ from the ‘Different Drummer’ album, which supported the anti-apartheid struggle going on in South Africa at that time. His music has also been used in radio and television commercials, including ‘Who’s That Lady’ (Swiffer) and ‘Between The Sheets’ (L’Oreal).
When ISLEY-JASPER-ISLEY disbanded (1987), CHRIS JASPER brought his “unique sound” to his own solo projects, topping the charts with ‘SuperBad’, a song promoting the value of education. CHRIS JASPER has continued to write songs and produce his own R&B and Gospel music, as well as other artists, for his independent record label, Gold City Records.
CHRIS JASPER’s music has been covered and sampled by hundreds of new and established recording artists, including Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Fantasia, Will Smith, Aaliyah, Queen Latifah, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Natalie Cole, Jaheim, Kendrick Lamar, and the list goes on and on. His music has also been used in many movie and television soundtracks.
In 1992, CHRIS JASPER, along with the other members of THE ISLEY BROTHERS, was inducted into the ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME and in 2014, received a GRAMMY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. In 2015, CHRIS JASPER received the German Record Critics Lifetime Achievement Award (“Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik”). In 2016, Chris was awarded the National R&B Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Chris is also a recipient of the BRE Lifetime Achievement Award and numerous ASCAP awards.
BACKGROUND AND EDUCATION
Chris Jasper was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 30, 1951, the youngest of seven siblings. While growing up in Cincinnati, Chris studied classical piano starting at the age of 7 years old. After graduating from high school in Cincinnati, he moved to New York to study music composition at the Juilliard School of Music.
Chris received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music composition from C.W. Post College in New York, where he studied under noted jazz pianist and composer, Dr. Billy Taylor. He subsequently received a Juris Doctorate degree from Concord University School of Law.
THE JASPER/ISLEY CONNECTION
The Jasper and Isley families lived in the same apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio. Chris’s older sister, Elaine, married Rudolph Isley. The three older Isley brothers, Rudolph, O’Kelly, and Ronald, formed a vocal trio (“The Isley Brothers”) and relocated to Teaneck, New Jersey.
While temporarily living in New Jersey as a teenager, Chris and the two younger Isley brothers, Marvin and Ernie, formed a band, “The Jazzmen Trio” that played locally in New Jersey. Chris played keyboards, Ernie played drums and Marvin played the bass. Along with Chris, Ernie and Marvin also attended C.W. Post College in New York. While in college, Chris, Marvin and Ernie played on the older Isley Brothers recordings, including ‘It’s Your Thing’.
THE ISLEY BROTHERS YEARS
In 1973, Chris, Marvin, and Ernie brought the songwriting and musical component to the older brothers vocal trio, making The Isley Brothers, a self-produced, self-contained six-member group. Their debut release as a 6-member band on their CBS-associated label was the ‘3+3’ album.
Although all 6 members of the Isley Brothers are credited as songwriters on the music from this era, this was a business arrangement and does not reflect the creative reality. Chris was the primary songwriter/musician, producer, and arranger of The Isley Brothers music from 1973 (‘3+3’) through 1983 (‘Between the Sheets’), with contributions by younger members Ernie and Marvin Isley. Chris’s arrangements and instrumentation as a classically-trained musician, and his expertise on the keyboards, synthesizers, and other instruments, have been credited as the foundation of the legendary “Isley Brothers Sound.” In 1984, the 6-member group disbanded due to internal problems.
In 1984, Chris, Marvin, and Ernie formed Isley-Jasper-Isley, a self-produced, self-contained trio, with Chris as the lead singer of the group, continuing his role as the primary songwriter/ musician, producer, and arranger. Isley-Jasper-Isley recorded 3 albums on their CBS-associated label, and earned recognition with their #1 hit, ‘Caravan of Love’. ‘Caravan’ was covered by an English recording group, the Housemartins, who made the song an international #1 hit.
In 1987, Isley-Jasper-Isley disbanded and Chris embarked on a solo career. Chris formed his record label, Gold City Records, and released two albums as a CBS-associated label. His debut single, ‘Superbad’ reached #1 on the R&B charts. Eventually, Marvin and Ernie returned to record under the Isley Brothers group name, and Chris continued his solo career, releasing a total of 15 solo albums to date, including 4 urban contemporary gospel CDs.
Chris has also produced a number of artists for his Gold City label and has worked with such notable artists as Chaka Khan, writing and producing a song for her CK album (‘Make It Last’). Chris’s music has been covered and sampled by numerous new and established recording artists, including Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Fantasia, Will Smith, Aaliyah, Queen Latifah, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Natalie Cole, Jaheim, Kendrick Lamar, and the list goes on and on.
Chris works closely with his 24-year old son, Michael Jasper, who released his debut album ‘Addictive’ on the Gold City label at the age of 16 in 2010. ‘Addictive’ was written and recorded by Michael, and co-produced by Chris. Michael’s recently released ‘Make It’ from his forthcoming CD ‘Dreams’ which is scheduled for release in 2018. Chris and Michael are currently working on a film score for an original screenplay by Michael Jasper.
Chris has received numerous gold and platinum albums and music industry awards, including the BET lifetime achievement award and many ASCAP awards for his songwriting. In 1992, Chris, along with the other members of The Isley Brothers, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in 2014 received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015, Chris received the German Record Critics Lifetime Achievement Award (“Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik”). In 2016, Chris was awarded the National R&B Society Lifetime Achievement Award.
Chris and his wife of 35 years, Margie, live in New York.
ISLEY BROTHERS YEARS
3+3 (CBS) 1973
Live It Up (CBS) 1974
The Heat Is On (CBS) 1975
Harvest For The World (CBS) 1976
Go For Your Guns (CBS) 1977
Showdown (CBS) 1978
Winner Takes All (CBS) 1979
Go All The Way (CBS) 1980
Grand Slam (CBS) 1981
Inside You (CBS) 1981
The Real Deal (CBS) 1982
Between The Sheets (CBS) 1983
Broadway’s Closer to Sunset Boulevard (CBS) 1984
Caravan of Love (CBS) 1985
Different Drummer (CBS) 1986
Superbad (Gold City/CBS Associated) 1988
Time Bomb (Gold City/CBS Associated) 1989
Praise the Eternal (Gold City) 1992
Deep Inside (Gold City) 1994
Faithful & True (Gold City) 2002
Best of Chris Jasper…With Love (Gold City) 2003
Amazing Love (Gold City) 2005
Invincible (Gold City) 2007
Everything I Do (Gold City) 2010
Inspired (Gold City) 2013
Thank You Jesus (Gold City) 2014
The One (Gold City) 2014
The Essential Chris Jasper (Gold City/Sony Legacy) 2015
Share With Me (Gold City) 2016
Dance With You (Gold City) (July 2018)
Former Isley Brother CHRIS JASPER brings back Soulful R&B and Funk with “DANCE WITH YOU”
New Music from Former Isley Brother, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee CHRIS JASPER
CHRIS JASPER brings back SOULFUL R&B and FUNK with his new CD Release “DANCE WITH YOU” … the JULY ALBUM OF THE MONTH on Soultracks:
“DANCE WITH YOU” includes 10 tracks of ballads, funk, and mid-tempo dance tracks along with positive uplifting messages … it’s just what you would expect from Chris Jasper!
The title track ‘Dance With You’, ‘Sweet Margie’, and ‘The Love That You Give’ are classic R&B tracks featuring Chris Jasper’s familiar keyboard work and sweet vocal harmony arrangements.
‘Show Somebody Love’ is a standout track with its universal message of love and unity and a call to come together with that common bond we all have…Love!
Chris Jasper’s vocals, arrangement, and orchestration on the classic Aerosmith track ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ brings that song to a new level and a new audience.
‘It’s a Miracle’ contains a spiritually uplifting message with a mid-tempo classic R&B stepper’s groove.
‘Make Your Move’ continues that bass-pumping and keyboard-driven funk that Chris Jasper was known for writing and producing when he was with the Isley Brothers like ‘Fight the Power’ and ‘The Pride’.
‘Happy Birthday Love’ contains a sweet soulful birthday message for the one you love!
‘I Love You’ and ‘That’s What Love Can Do’ are club remixes that will keep people on the dance floor!
With the release of ‘Dance With You’, Chris Jasper continues his familiar and award-winning musical style…reminiscent of the music he wrote and produced for the Isley Brothers, Isley-Jasper-Isley, and his solo music.
‘Dance With You’ is Chris Jasper’s 15th Solo Album since his time as a member of the Isley Brothers (1973-1983) when Chris was primarily responsible for writing, arranging, and producing the Isley Brothers music during their “gold and platinum” years, as well as being the primary writer/arranger/producer of the music for his spinoff group, Isley-Jasper-Isley (1984-1987), before embarking on his solo career and starting his independent label, Gold City Records.
Chris Jasper’s arrangements and instrumentation as a classically-trained musician, and his expertise on the keyboards and synthesizers, have been called the foundation of the legendary “Isley Brothers Sound.”