Philadelphia-born pianist Mark Dunn cites lengthy travels through Central America as the inspiration for the compositions on Return to Peace, his second album (following a more jazz-oriented debut, Mark Dunn), subtitling it "A Celtic Journey Through Central America." Actually, the operative word turns out to be "Celtic"; Dunn, who can claim Irish heritage through his paternal grandparents, took an Irish pennywhistle on his travels, and the music he has come back with is much more steeped in Celtic traditions than Central American ones. He mixes in nature sounds to get some of the flavor of his trip, and percussionist Carlos Vargas adds some light Latin elements here and there. But the prevailing influence is Irish folk music, particularly when Dunn's piano and pennywhistle are interacting with Peter Nitsche's violin. At the same time, Dunn clearly knows his way around piano-based new age music, and the overall effect has something of a "George Winston meets Johnny Cunningham" sound.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann