Journey Around the Sun: A Mayan Odyssey

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Ponder Dust Publishing Presents the new album from the innovative contemporary instrumental music team of Bill Wren and Frank Ralls.

Ponder Dust Publishing announces the release of Journey Around the Sun: A Mayan Odyssey from the acclaimed music duo of Bill Wren and Frank Ralls.

When one ponders song-writing teams, one usually gravitates to pop, rock, theatre, or movies. The notion of two artists collaborating to write and arrange in the new age, world fusion, or contemporary instrumental genres would not spring to mind. However, with the release of Journey Around the Sun, (the pair’s second joint effort) Bill Wren and Frank Ralls are making a name for themselves with their unique approach to crafting outstanding cross-genre instrumental music.

The pair came together through the serendipitous nature of an Internet search. Wren had a background in playing rock bands from the ‘60s through the ‘90s, but by 2000, he realized that composing instrumental music was his true calling. After recording some demos, he stumbled upon Ralls via a third party website and the ball started rolling. The two discovered rather quickly that they were of like mind when it came to their musical visions as well as their insistence on a high level of recording quality. While Wren originally sought Ralls solely as a producer in 2007, it soon became apparent that Ralls’ musical abilities as a performer, arranger, and composer, would be a perfect fit with Wren’s abundant musical creativity and artistic inspiration. By this time, Wren already had preliminary musical “sketches” and demos of many of the tracks which would eventually wind up on their debut recording, One Day in a Life (2008), as well as Journey Around the Sun. When Ralls first heard the song “Old Friend” (from One Day in a Life), his reaction was immediate. “[It] reminded me a lot of the mood and the qualities of new age music that had me hooked early on in my life when I started listening to [the genre].”

Through their unique collaborative process, which involves Wren’s initial compositions, Ralls’ input and suggestions, as well as both of them consulting in the final music’s arrangements, the pair fine-tuned the recording of One Day in a Life and the results were far beyond their expectations. The album went to number one on new age radio programs across the US and was picked up by Sirius XM satellite radio. Many songs won individual awards, and noted new age music reviewer Bill Binkelman compared the duo’s music to David Arkenstone’s Sketches from an American Journey, and wrote, “Come along as Wren, Ralls, and company take you on a delightful and charming musical voyage.”

After One Day in a Life, it was time to explore a decidedly different musical frontier. Bill Wren had become fascinated with the Mayan civilization and, in particular, their 2012 prophecy. Drawing on his deep respect for the Mayans and their highly advanced ways, Wren envisioned a concept album centered on a voyage of exploration and discovery; Journey Around the Sun was born. Thus began the task of composing the cross-genre music, much of which Wren conceptualized before he even connected with Ralls. Next, the duo marshaled their forces, sending music back and forth over the Internet and exchanging emails with suggestions, criticisms, and revisions. One aspect that proved crucial was Ralls’ arranging abilities. As Wren described, “The reason I picked Frank…was not only his skill to produce radio quality music, but his brilliant arrangement skills.” The music on Journey Around the Sun was going to encompass a much broader sonic landscape than One Day in a Life, with music influences from the Spanish, Mediterranean, Eastern European gypsy, and beyond musical cultures. Because of Wren’s vast musical vision, he and Ralls would have to push the envelope and involve some of the most talented and experienced musicians and arrangers, which they obviously did as evidenced by the guest artists’ and arrangers’ resumes.

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 (late 2011), and many others, all of whom have notable musical chops.

However, what really stands out on Journey Around the Sun (as well as on One Day in a Life), is the sky-high quality of the music and the production, the obvious result of both Wren’s and Ralls’ (some might say) fanatical pursuit of perfection. The unique method that Bill Wren and Frank Ralls exercise when they create music represents a perfect union of two artists who truly complement each other’s strengths and shore up their weaknesses, the result being musical magic. While their uniqueness stands out in the genre of new age or contemporary instrumental music, this level of simpatico thinking has existed in rock, pop and theatre composing for decades. Maybe it’s fitting that Bill Wren and Frank Ralls are pioneers. They are true visionaries, and their combined efforts yield truly visionary music.

Journey Around the Sun, scheduled to be released nationally on August 2, 2011, will be available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby. Watch the ‘preview trailer’ for the CD on Vimeo at http://vimeo.com/frankralls/tv-commercial. There is an Internet-based CD release event scheduled to begin August 2, 2011, on Facebook (facebook.com/billwrenfrankrallsmusic) and journeyaroundthesun.com. The event, scheduled to last through the month of August, includes free giveaways (including Starbucks cards, autographed CDs, and an iPad), live performances of the music, online chat sessions with Bill Wren and Frank Ralls and a reduced CD purchase price for the first two weeks of the month (applies only to purchases on journeyaroundthesun.com).

For more information, please visit:
journeyaroundthesun.com
facebook.com/billwrenfrankrallsmusic
(EPK Available: http://www.reverbnation.com/c./rpk/346195?access_code=b38c336d02edc66abfe1&auto_play=true)

Promotion by Lazz Promotions (lazzpromotions(at)rogers(dot)com)

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Harold Wren

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