"STILL DOING HIS THING"--CHRIS JASPER'S LATEST CD IS TITLED, "EVERYTHING I DO."
Lana K. Wilson-Combs
During the 1970s and '80s, The Isley Brothers, led by Ronald Isley and a line-up of six family members including brother-in-law, Chris Jasper, dominated the music charts.
Jasper was an integral part of the soul/funk/R&B group and contributed his songwriting talents and keyboard playing on several of the band's numerous gold and platinum hit records, notably "For the Love of You," "Between the Sheets" and the soulful, anthem, "Fight the Power."
However, when the Isley's disbanded in 1984, Jasper formed a trio with Marvin and Ernie Isley—Isley-Jasper-Isley--and they immediately made their mark with the beautiful, soft, flowing ballad, "Caravan of Love" which featured Chris on lead vocals.
A few years later, Jasper branched out on his own and hasn't looked back. The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee has released seven CD's as a solo artist, including his latest release, "Everything I Do" on his New York based independent record label, Gold City Records (www.goldcitymusic.com).
Check out N2Entertainment.net's "In The Groove" review of "Everything I Do."
Jasper, also has a new single coming out late August titled, "Someone" and he recently co-produced his son Michael's debut CD, "Addictive" which is currently in stores now.
N2Entertainment.net caught up with Chris Jasper to discuss his latest CD, "Everything I Do" as well as get his take on today's music scene. The Julliard trained musician also talked about the death of bassist Marvin Isley and how he feels about his son Michael following in his footsteps.
Here's what else Jasper had to say.
Q. Congratulations on the new CD, "Everything I Do." It's getting very good press and deservingly so. Can you talk about producing it and how long it took to complete?
A. "Everything I Do" is actually my 7th solo album. My previous CD, "Invincible" was all gospel, although it had up-tempo and some ballads. "Everything I Do" is all up-tempo and funk, some of which contains an inspirational message.
Q. Did you collaborate with anyone on "Everything I Do" or did you write and produce it entirely?
A. No, I didn't collaborate with anyone. I wrote and produced it myself.
Q. Where can fans get a copy?
A. They can go to our Web site, GoldCityMusic.com, CDBaby.com or Amazon.com and check with their local stores. If it's not in there, ask for it.
Q. Unlike so many artists who lose their souls and identity trying to keep up with the next big musical trend or fad, you have never gone down that road. You have remained an accomplished and well-respected artist doing things your way. Is that a personal stance that you've taken or does it have more to do with being a veteran of the music industry and a desire to keep funk and R&B music alive?
A. I haven't taken any particular personal stance, I just think it's a matter of doing what I do best and enjoy the most.
Q. Speaking of funk and R&B music, what has happened to it? Is it a thing of the past and can there ever be another Motown, Stax or even a T-Neck (Record label founded by The Isley Brothers)?
A. I don't believe there can be another Motown simply because Motown was unique in how it was structured. There were producers and writers on staff, incredible talent that were groomed from an early age. They stuck with artists for a long time and helped developed their career. It seems that now, if artists put a record out and it doesn't do well, they are released from the label.
They aren't given a chance to develop.
Q. What's your take on the state of today's music?
A. Right now, I think it's more about the music than the artist. I have always looked at the songs rather than who was singing the song. The music is what impressed me. As far as today's music, funk and R&B is still around, but dance, pop, and hip-hop are being played more on the radio.
Q. Has this digital media—downloading, etc.—affected the music in a positive or negative way?
A. Both. On one hand, it makes it easier for people to buy the music. You don't have to leave your house to purchase the music, and you can get the music out to a broader audience. On the other hand, some people share music with each other, which hurts the artist as far as the revenue is concerned.
Q. Your son Michael released his first CD, "Addictive." Did you also write and produce it?
A. Michael wrote and performed the songs on his own. I co-produced the CD with him and accompanied him on the background vocals and talkbox.
Q. How is "Addictive" doing?
A. It has received a lot of good press and it looks promising.
Q. What was it like working with your son? Were there any clashes or creative differences or did you just tell him to sit back and watch how a pro does things?
A. No clashes. We work well together. Of course Michael had his own ideas, and that was fine. We were just focused in on what will work and putting out the best product we could.
Q. What sort of advice or guidance did you give Michael along the way and what type have you given him about the music industry in general?
A. Michael is self-motivated. He started the project on his own without anyone pushing him. In fact, I was surprised when he called me in to listen to what he was doing. If he asked for my input, I gave it to him. I told him what I tell every new artist, to be as objective as you possibly can about your music.
Q. Was music something that Michael wanted to pursue or something you wanted him to pursue?
A. Michael started playing piano at the age of 4, so he had an early introduction to music. He continued in school and took classes, like advanced music technology, and started writing and recording on his own. I never pushed him to go into music, and he has a lot of other interests he is pursuing as well.
Q. At what age did you realize your son was a chip off the old block?
A. I realized Michael was musical at a young age. As I said, he started piano at 4, and he used to sing catchy little tunes he made up, and he would put them on a little cassette tape recorder. But when I heard him working on the "Addictive" CD, I knew he really had what it takes to turn professional…good rhythm, a feel for instrumentation, and good ideas.
Q. Do you guys talk about your days of being with the Isleys?
A. I mostly talk about some of the recording sessions, some of the songs that were recorded, how and where we recorded them and things of that nature
Q. Do you miss being in a group and have you ever thought about forming another one seeing that you still know how to get your groove on?
A. (Laughter). No, I don't miss being in a group. It's been so long since we've been together. I got used to being solo.
Q. We've lost some musical giants like Teddy Pendergrass, Ollie Woodson of "The Temptations" as well as Marvin Isley. Can you talk about the imprint they left on R&B music and what fond memories you have of Marvin?
A.Yes, there has been a lot of talent lost recently. The biggest loss for me personally, was Marvin. We talked frequently during the last few years. Not only were we partners in the music business, we were also friends. We had a lot of laughs and shared a lot of memories together. I'll always remember Marvin as a kind and fun loving person and I miss him a lot.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to add about your CD, Michael's release or any other upcoming projects or tours?
A. Well, we are both working on new music. We both seem to have that in common… always working on music. We'll see how things go with the CD and maybe plan some shows.
Editor's Note: For more information of Chris Jasper and his new CD, "Everything I Do," log on to GoldCityMusic.com.