Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile
The Goat Rodeo Sessions
For those unfamiliar, a “goat rodeo” refers to a situation in which 100 things must go right in order for something to work. I don’t think this foursome had any trouble with it; you can almost hear the laughter and ease these musicians brought to the table in making this remarkable record. Remarkable for the quality of players, of course. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is one of classical music’s most elite, Chris Thile has long been regarded as a master of the mandolin back to his teenage years in Nickel Creek. Bassist Edgar Meyer and violinist Stuart Duncan are certainly no slouches either. But together they make a sound that rivals their greatest successes.
Ma and Edgar Meyer had recorded together before, on Appalachian Journey and 1996’s Appalachia Waltz, and The Goat Rodeo Sessions has a bit of that element to it. Fiddle tunes seem to form the outlines of certain songs, but add in the classical elements of the violin and cello and now you’re looking at a whole new form of musical expression. Vocalist Aoife O’Donovan adds words to the mix on two cuts she sings with Thile, but you don’t need vocals for this record to be a success. Fans of acoustic music from the legendary Oregon to the genre-jumping David Grisman will feel at home here, and when Thile’s mandolin partners with Yo-Yo Ma’s cello to start the disc with “Attaboy,” your heart will race. I believe the goats have been successfully rodeoed.