Peter Phippen says he’s not in a hurry to put out another solo album featuring his playing of traditional flutes. But listeners can hear the Eau Claire musician’s signature sound on three prominent releases.
All three of the recordings have been nominated for ZMR Annual Music Awards, bestowed by ZoneMusicReporter.com. The site, formerly known as NewAgeReporter.com, describes itself as the industry source for new age, world, ambient, electronic, solo piano, relaxation, instrumental and others genres. The three honored projects are:
• “Inner Rhythm Meditations Vol II” (Heart Dance Records), by percussionist Byron Metcalf, Best World Album. Phippen played shakuhachi and bansuri flutes.
• “Perihelion...the Turning Point” (Laughing Cat Records), by Al Jewer and Andy Mitran, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Phippen played shakuhachi flute on two tracks.
• “Quiet Spaces: Flute Meditations for Mindfulness and Relaxation” (Cul de Sac Mystic Productions), by flutist Ann Licater, Best Relaxation/Meditation Album. Phippen played bass on several tracks and co-produced the album.
“I’m a side man, and it’s kind of cool,” Phippen said, smiling. He described all of those artists as “really nice people. … Kind people who are open to ideas.”
He believes part of what got him those featured roles is that he has developed his own sound, he said, adding, “And if they hear it, and it seems to fit with what they’re working on, then, bang, I’m on it. I’m the right man for the job. … That’s not going to be everybody.”
Phippen had known all three of the honored musicians before these recent sessions.
In the case of Metcalf, as the album title suggests, the new album follows “Inner Rhythm Meditations,” released in 2016, which Phippen also played on along with guitarist Eric Wollo.
Metcalf’s long, varied career, according to his website, includes playing drums on Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” album and other gold- and platinum-selling recordings. After that success, he began using his talents on the healing arts. The website says he “produces music for deep inner exploration, breathwork, shamanic journeywork, body-oriented therapies, various meditation practices and the healing arts.”
Interviewed by phone, Metcalf said he had asked Phippen to contribute after coming across his playing. Following a few social media exchanges, Metcalf invited Phippen to his studio in Arizona.
“It couldn’t have been better,” Metcalf said of Phippen’s contributions. “He’s a fabulous player. He really is studio savvy. Intonation, pitch is just dead-on. He’s really picky about that, which I really appreciate.”
As a result, Metcalf said, it made sense to bring back Phippen and Wollo for the follow-up album.
Phippen has done more extensive work with Licater. Responding by email to inquiries, Licater said she has had Phippen co-produce her last four albums.
“(H)e understands the nuances of recording native American and world flutes,” she wrote. “Peter is a fine player, has superb musical taste, and can help implement my vision.”
She also noted that both of them take on both producer and artist roles.
“We respect each others’ artistic instincts and have a short-hand that happens when you work together over time,” she wrote. “It’s impossible to dissect art, but I would say his deep knowledge about the flutes, recording them and serving the song as a bassist/percussionist sets him apart.”
With “Perihelion...the Turning Point,” Phippen said, Jewer and Mitran recruited a number of guest artists. Another guest on the disc is bassist Erik Scott, whose credits include working with Alice Cooper and Flo & Eddie.
Besides those three albums, Phippen recorded shakuhachi and bansuri flute playing for Richard Ross’ album titled “Seventh Chakra,” scheduled for release this month.
In addition, Phippen was part of a local trio that released an album last year. The other two players on “Seven” are percussionist Tiit Raid and keyboardist Ivar Lunde. The project was recorded at Lunde’s Skyline Studios.
One of the reasons Phippen enjoys making albums is so he can watch the production process and possibly learn lessons he can apply later. That practice began in the 1980s, when he was playing bass in the rock band Airkraft.
“We’d have these producers come in, and I’d get my parts done and then I’d sit there and say, ‘Can I stay?’” he recalled.
The answer he often got: “If you shut up and sit in the corner, you can stay.”
Told it must feel good to be sought after, Phippen politely disagreed.
“I don’t know if I’m sought after,” he said. “I like calling it dumb luck.”
But one thing he has no hesitation about is his enjoyment of playing the flute.
“I do love playing my flutes; it’s my favorite thing to do,” he said. “Thirty-two years now. Where does the time go?”
Maybe the reason he asks that question is that he’s just not keeping track of time these days.
“I’m not rushing anything anymore,” he said. “Maybe it’s age. I’m in no hurry.”
Contact: 715-833-9214, email@example.com, @BillFoy1 on Twitter