Archive for August, 2011

Duo Releases Music Inspired by the Maya World

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., 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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Juan Gabriel Concert Back on for November — I Think …

August 4th, 2011 by ejalbright

News outlets in Mexico are reporting that Juan Gabriel will perform at Chichen Itza this November, and that Paul McCartney will be coming at the end of the year, or in March.

Which, if true, means that nothing has changed from earlier this year, except confirmation that Juan Gabriel is being sought for Chichen Itza. He was originally penciled in for November 12, but not 2011 but 2010, as we reported last year. No specific date has been announced for the Juan Gabriel show.

In the meantime, news outlets also are reporting that negotiations continue with Sir Paul, and if I was a betting man, I’d say he’ll be at Chichen sometime in 2012, hopefully before the world ends.

Despite the flurry of news activity, nothing is really locked down. Expect announcements soon.

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Presidents of Mexico, Columbia, Tour Chichen Itza

August 1st, 2011 by ejalbright

Presidents Felipe Calderón Hinojosa of México and Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Columbia, along with their respective spouses, toured Chichen Itza yesterday as part off the latter’s state visit to Mexico.

The tour took less than two hours, but both leaders and their spouses made the most of it, as they got to see areas closed to the average tourist: The throne room of the pyramid inside El Castillo and the top of the Temple of Warriors.

The ancient Maya frequently would build larger structures on top of older ones. Underneath El Castillo is another pyramid that was discovered in the early 1930s. At the top of the inner pyramid is a temple. Inside archaeologists found a Chac Mool statue and a throne carved in the form of a red jaguar with spots of jade inlay. The presidents climbed inside El Castillo and viewed the throne room, which has been closed to the public since 2006. They also were permitted to ascend the Temple of Warriors to view up close the Chac Mool and two large pillars carved in the shape of a feathered serpent.

Although security was tight (including snipers atop El Castillo), the archaeological zone was not closed. Many tourists who happened to be there had the opportunity to have their pictures taken with the chief executives.

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