August 18th, 2011 by ejalbright
Journey Around The Sun: A tribute to the Maya from Bill Wren | Frank Ralls
The land of the ancient Maya has long attracted believers in New Age philosophies. Why not New Age music?
Bill Wren had become fascinated with the ancient Maya civilization and in the culmination of their calendar in 2012. He envisioned a concept album that reflected his respect for the Maya’s culture and achievements, one that would center on a voyage of exploration and discovery.
The result is Journey Around the Sun: A Mayan Odyssey, released earlier this month. Wren once again partnered with Frank Ralls, who teamed with him on the duo’s best-selling One Day in a Life, released in 2008.
As they had done in the past, Wren wrote the original versions of the songs, and then the two refined them by sending music back and forth across the Internet. Out of this process the duo created 14 tracks, including one about “The Road to Chichen Itza.”
Journey Around the Sun encompasses a much broader sonic landscape than their previous collaboration, with music influences from the Spanish, Mediterranean, Eastern European gypsy, and other musical cultures. The songs alternate from dramatic to intimate, employing a wide canvass of emotion.
Because of Wren’s vast musical vision, he and Ralls attracted some of the most talented and experienced musicians and arrangers to join them on this album. Co-arrangers on the CD were Terry Winch, who has a long association with Disney and their theme parks, and Ike Sturm, a rising star on the jazz scene who is currently touring Europe with his “Jazz Mass”, which garnered a favorable mention in Downbeat. Guest artists included violinist Philip Pan, concertmaster of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, vocalist Michelle Amato, who toured with Yanni on his Ethnicity tour, guitarist Sandy Williams, who will be featured on PBS with Michael Feinstein’s “American Songbook” later this year, and many others, all of whom have notable musical chops.
Here Ralls talks about the inspiration behind the music:
Journey Around the Sun is available from iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby. Join Wren and Ralls on Facebook and the Journey Around the Sun Web site. journeyaroundthesun.com, where the duo is holding an online release party throughout August, including free giveaways (including Starbucks cards, autographed CDs, and an iPad), live performances of the music, and online chat sessions with Bill Wren and Frank Ralls.
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