Mark Dunn,
Return to Peace: A Celtic
Journey Through Central America

(Timeless Jazz, 2004)

This CD is a result of travels by Mark Dunn, subtitled "A Celtic Journey Through Central America." Dunn is primarily a pianist, but he took a pennywhistle with him on this backpacking journey.

Return to Peace is firmly new age, having both the advantages and drawbacks of that genre. Dunn's instrumentals are relaxing and often beautiful. On the other hand, the whole CD is so smooth that nothing seems to stand out, and a few of the cuts are undistinguished as generic Celtic background music.

On most of the cuts, violinist Peter Nitsche and/or Dunn on pennywhistle double the melody with Dunn on piano. This method works well on cuts like "An Irish Wedding," with its lovely "music box" melody and the traditional "Tegucigalpa."

Dunn's group includes Randall Najera on upright bass and Peregrino Gris on percussion, but they are barely heard on most of the songs. Although he more or less alternates solo piano cuts with those having backup, the 11 songs tend to blend into each other. The exception is the last tune "Cahuita," where the pennywhistle invokes Central America panpipes.

Sounding much more Celtic than South American, this CD is recommended for listeners who enjoy wistful, dreamy Celtic "soundscape" music, anchored by Dunn's solid acoustic piano work.

by Dave Howell
8 April 2006

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