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The Goat Rodeo Sessions

4.6 out of 5 stars 271 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 24, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

The Goat Rodeo Sessions is an ambitious and groundbreaking project that brings together four string virtuosos: world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, fiddler Stuart Duncan, bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolinist Chris Thile. While each artist is a prominent figure in his own music sphere, they have come together as a unified ensemble on a most remarkable and organic cross-genre project. The music, including two tracks with female vocalist Aoife O'Donovan, feels both new and familiar it's composed and improvised, uptown and down home, funky and pastoral and above all, uniquely American.
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Video: Helping Hand (Live Performance)
Video: Helping Hand (Live Performance)
Album Only
Digital Booklet: The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Digital Booklet: The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 24, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 57 minutes
  • ASIN: B005G5NPIS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,601 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Vibrant and varied, this album is a wonderful addition to the classical crossover genre. Some tracks made me want to get up and dance, others were melancholy and heart rending. The musicians are all world class, and the music is of original composition. The fire and drive of the bluegrass world meets with the clarity and class of the classical world, and something new is born.

Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma have collaborated successfully before on albums such as Appalachia Waltz and Appalachian Journey, but this album reaches new levels of musical interest and variety. In this collaboration, they've added two more fabulous musicians to the mix: Chris Thile on mandolin (originally of Nickel Creek fame) and Stuart Duncan on fiddle (session musician with the big names in Nashville). This album relies primarily on instrumental work, but each track has a unique sound. The album never sounds repetitive. At times, the musicians even pull out instruments we're not used to hearing them play: we hear Meyer on the gamba and piano, Duncan on the banjo and mandolin, and Thile on the guitar, fiddle, gamba, and vocals.

The album flows well, and I enjoyed it in its entirety. "Here and Heaven" and "No One but You," which both include vocalist Aoife O'Donovan, are particularly wonderful. I also thoroughly enjoyed "Less is Moi," with its catchy and surprising rhythm. I think my favorite track, though, was "Franz the Eagle" -- I can't get over the beauty of the piano and cello duet in this haunting and majestic piece.
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Of all the Sony recordings with Edgar as the common denominator (Appalachian Waltz, Appal. Journey, Short Trip Home, his solo effort, Melody of the Rhythm), this one is by far the best! My favorite instrumental up to this point was "Look Away" with Edgar, Chris and Joshua Bell. The Goat Rodeo album is very much in the same spirit as "Look Away." Overall, an incredible blend of Celtic, Classical and Jazz/Funk stylings topped off with 2 tracks that include vocals by that lady from 'Crooked Still' and Chris. The addition of guitar, piano and banjolin (I think) makes it stand out even more from the other ones. Way to go, Stuart, Yo Yo, Chris & Edgar! The new Fab Four!
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Format: Audio CD
In this new CD Yo-Yo Ma collaborates with bassist Edgar Meyer, fiddler Stuart Duncan, and mandolin player Chris Thile. Ma has always been a fascinating musical personality, exploring music from across the globe, and this time it is the turn of the American South. Duncan and Thile are established Bluegrass players, and Meyer straddles both Bluegrass and Classical styles. For those of you unfamiliar with the term Bluegrass, it's a style of folk music from the Appalachian mountain area of the Southeastern US that features virtuoso playing on string instruments like the banjo, mandolin, and fiddle. It's sort of a jazzy, bluesy version of Country music with a Celtic influence, and a bit of old-time hymn singing stuck in for good measure. I have friends who have heard the Goat Rodeo Sessions and hate it because it isn't pure Bluegrass, but it seems to me that the heritage of Bluegrass is so diverse that adding a bit of classical, and even a bit of minimalism to the mix isn't a bad thing at all. Frankly, if it's got Yo-yo Ma in it and you're expecting Bill Monroe, your expectations are more than a little skewed in the wrong direction.

All of the pieces on the CD have a joint authorship by Meyer, Thile, and Duncan, and so tend toward the Bluegrass feel. Yo-yo Ma is definitely the odd man out, not a composer, unable to improvise along with the others, and somewhat unfamiliar with the idiom. It's this misfit that gave the CD its name--"Goat Rodeo" is a slang term for a situation of total chaos. To me, though, that is a wildly inappropriate name for this disc, because in spite of whatever difficulties the collaborators might have experienced in making the recording, the listener will only be aware of extremely beautiful, rhythmically tight virtuostic playing.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This may be the best recording I have heard in 20 years... I say "may" because all four of these musicians have recorded other projects that I also enjoy immensely. As I listen my soul is refreshed. I will be waiting to see the Grammy acceptance speech for this project! Do not pass this up!
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Format: Audio CD
My first encounter with "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" was via an ad in The New York Times. At the time, I giggled over the title and made a mental note to check it out later.

Of course, I was picturing an actual goat rodeo.

I forgot about the album until I started up my Spotify a few days later and found it featured on the front page. After the first track, I decided the album needed its own playlist. By the time I'd listened to it all the way through, I was determined to own it.

Because this album is seriously great. It's technically classified as bluegrass, but it has a distinctly Celtic feel that tugs at all the right emotions and makes my heart sing. The songs are all so different (although you will hear variations on a theme through some of them), yet they all fit together and give the album a really nice arc from beginning to end. The first track, "Attaboy," has a wonderfully celebratory quality, and the music continues to build in raucousness like a seisún in a pub until it resolves to its original theme. "Where's My Bow," the fourth track, is dramatic and mysterious all at once and reminds me of the score for a period drama. "Here in Heaven," the fifth track, which features vocals by Chris Thile and Aiofe O'Donovan, has lodged itself so firmly in my head that I find myself humming it everywhere. And the final track, "Goat Rodeo," is Nashville personified by strings.

"The Goat Rodeo Sessions" has turned into my go-to album: I listen to it while I work, I dance around the kitchen to it when I cook, I put it on when I just want something pretty playing in the background. If I had a car, I'd probably love having it on while driving too.
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