Chris Jasper — Inspired: By Love, By Life, By the Spirit
Oct. 7, 2013
As many of you know, we do not typically review solely R&B/gospel projects. However, should any really impress us, you will find them here in our Slight Detour page. Well, I am honored to have this opportunity to review such a quality project from a former member of one of my top 5 vocal groups of all time — keyboardist Chris Jasper of the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Isley Brothers. Jasper’s new project on his own label (Gold City Music) is called Inspired: By Love, By Life, By the Spirit and is both original and reminiscent of the years he spent with The Isleys. It also provides me with a journey down memory lane with the stylings of that wonderful group.
No, I wasn’t just a fan of The Isleys. I lived and breathed Isley Brothers – long before Jasper or guitarist Ernie Isley had even graced the group with their presence and stellar performances. I can even recall adopting Ronald Isley’s vocal style with my own vocal groups back in the days of “Warpath,” Keep On Doin’,” “Get Into Something,” “Feels Like the World,” and their journey into the land of rock and roll with tributes to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Carole King, and the legendary Jimi Hendrix who played with them in the 60s before going solo.
Now, with an impressive 11 solo albums to his credit (including this one), Jasper, so remembered for his funky keys work and writing on Isley tracks like “Fight the Power,” “Between the Sheets,” and “For the Love of You” knocks it out of the park with romantic melodies, fired-up funk, and stellar vocals (not only from Jasper himself but backing vocals from members of the Jasper family) on Inspired. The music is so solid, well-written and produced, and professionally presented that I could hardly write this review because of having to constantly pause to let the groove just consume me.
With tunes that not only take one down the road to the Isley Brothers and Isley/Jasper/Isley years but take on that former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald groove (check out “Someone” and “Prince of Peace,” and you should hear what I mean), Jasper simply mesmerizes with this project. In addition there are the soul-stirring gospel–laced numbers like “Faith,” “Only the Lord Can Do That,” and the previously mentioned “Prince of Peace,” all fabulously performed.
I should think the fact that I’m even writing and placing this review on this site is testament enough to the full-bodied delivery of this fresh and powerful R&B/inspirational album from one whose past I so clearly remember and respect. Do yourself a huge favor, even if you’re not a solid R&B fan, and give this one a thorough listen. I’m sure you’ll share my take on it. – Ronald Jackson