Reibach comes out of retirement with contemplative 'Ascension'
Like so many musicians before him who have announced their retirement from the music industry – Phil Collins comes immediately to mind -- or embarked on “farewell” tours that proved premature, Tribal member Jan Looking Wolf Reibach’s December 2015 retirement was short-lived.
At the time, Reibach, a four-time Native American Music Award winner and multiple nominee, performed a farewell concert at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg and announced that his 20th studio album “Tamanawas” would be his last, thereby ending a successful career as a recording artist.
However, Reibach didn’t take into account that melodies would continue to percolate inside his being, prompting him to record demos into his cell phone while driving or interrupting dinner with his wife to capture a melody that popped into his head.
“Once I completely laid it down and walked away for six to eight months – that first part of 2016 – all of a sudden all of my creativity started flowing again to a level that it had to be expressed,” Reibach says. “I started writing songs that were different than anything I had ever done.”
After a while, he and his wife, Rhonda, knew he would need to do something with them.
The result is “Ascension,” a contemplative collection of 10 tracks recently released by High Spirits Music of Patagonia, Ariz.
On the release, Native flutist Reibach is accompanied by Nathan Myers on guitar, George Bobnett on percussion and Tim Yett on flute and guitar. There are also guest appearances by Mark Babson on violin and vocals, producer Keith Sommers on guitar, percussion and keyboards, and Reibach’s brother, Harris, on flute and vocals.
The song titles accentuate the meditative nature of “Ascension,” with titles such as “Violet Chakra,” “Oneness,” “Enlightened Path,” “Circle of Awakening” and “Synergy.” The overall acoustic vibe is one of calm mindfulness that can’t help but lower the blood pressure of anyone listening.
The liner notes acknowledge the peaceful, easy feeling: “It is a tapestry of meditative, colorful sounds that travel the range of world music with wooden flutes and the accompaniment of the ‘Looking Wolf’ band. Included are masterful flute performances, a variety of world percussion, acoustic guitars and vocal chants. May the listener find comfort and stillness in the songs.”
The new compact disc – Reibach’s 21st -- was pre-released in December and will see wide distribution in late January, being sent to 700 retail outlets in 17 countries. The CD will target the yoga, meditation and ambient music market and will be submitted to satellite radio for play and the Grammy and NAMMY awards for consideration.
However, Reibach says, coming out of retirement does not mean a return to being a touring road warrior. He has sporadic concert dates scheduled for 2017 and has one more compact disc to record on his new contract with High Spirits.
He also continues to work for the Grand Ronde Tribe as the Lands Department manager and is enjoying spending quality time with his wife.
“I don’t play that many concerts,” he says. “I try to stay local because of my job. I can’t travel as much as I used to. … I’ve pretty much taken myself off that market. This isn’t a touring album. This is definitely an album to be played for ambient radio, definitely a project for easy listening. Some of the music on the album would be hard to duplicate in a live environment. It is very difficult because you have to have a very quiet venue. It’s very delicate.”
Things have changed, personally and professionally, for Reibach, who has moved to Dallas, seen his son move out and attend college, and he is exercising more and watching his diet.
“Part of the reason why I left the whole scene is that concerts would drain me. When I would get done performing, I would just be exhausted and I would have to consume lots of food and get a really good night’s sleep to make up for exerting all of that energy,” Reibach says. “What’s changed is this album a big part of it, but it’s not all of it. … I’m looking for venues if they really have great sound and it’s for a good cause and you have a quiet environment so I can play this meditative music because when I perform this stuff it’s very therapeutic. When I’m done, I’m energized. I feel like I’ve taken a nap. It’s a different kind of intensity, an intensity that rejuvenates my soul.”
One important lesson Reibach has learned, however, is that retirement for creative people and particularly musicians is probably never in the cards.
“There will be no retirement,” he says. “I now understand artists as they get older who just keep playing even though they are 70. It’s their love of music and now I get that. At some level, I will be creating, performing or recording music in some way. … I did retire from something. I retired from an idea that I am a professional musician and I retired into being an artist. It’s totally different.”