The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Yo-Yo Ma leads a colourful exploration of American roots music

Musicians

Yo-Yo Ma (cello) Stuart Duncan (violin/banjo/mandolin) Edgar Meyer (double bass/piano/gamba) Chris Thile (mandolin/guitar/gamba/vocals) Aoife O’Donovan (vocals)

Composer

Trad

Catalogue number

Sony 88697891862

Real-life goat rodeo would be a rough ride indeed, but this is anything but. Instead, it’s an opportunity to bathe in an intricate and deluxe take on Bluegrass with classical overtones. The roistering hoedowns suggest some harum-scarum, perhaps, but the taut, fizzing melodies and jabbing, swinging mandolin show all the signs of complete control. And there’s more to the recording than obvious Bluegrass renditions: the melodic glides and accompanying pitter-patter of Helping Hand are charmingly serene, while there’s a dash of urban swagger to the funky Quarter Chicken Dark, and the shadowy moments of 13:8 lend the album real depth.

Three of the band have worked together before, but the newcomer – fiddler/banjo player Stuart Duncan – sits right in the slot with them too, merging as one with Chris Thile’s mandolin at times, at others pairing up with Yo-Yo Ma to deliver quick-fire syncopation, most notably in Where’s My Bow? Everything about it – including the smatterings of vocals – shows the light, assured touch of master craftsmen, finely shaped and filled with colour.

James Crel

From the October 2014 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.


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