Something that always catches my eye (or my ear, rather) quickly when I’m looking for new music is the word “crossover.” When it pops up, I usually find upon further investigation that it is referring to an unexpected blend of two or more styles of music that are not normally put together. Although this may sometimes result in the unfortunate weakening of the overall effort, that is not the case at all with The Goat Rodeo Sessions. One glance at the illustrious names appearing on the record further confirms such a proclamation; the featured musicians come from a variety of different musical backgrounds, spanning from the strict discipline of Baroque music to the looser, more informal structure of progressive bluegrass. Described as “an ambitious and groundbreaking project that brings together four string virtuosos,” The Goat Rodeo Sessions is a collection of original compositions that are sure to bring about the intellectual appreciation of well-thought-out classical pieces and the homegrown nostalgia of energetic bluegrass.
Of the four maestros on the album, the most well-known is perhaps Yo-Yo Ma, who is considered one of the most famous cellists of the current era. He has the most notable classical background of the four, and certainly brings the full extent of his experience with such music to the project. On mandolin is Chris Thile, who was a member of Grammy Award-winning progressive bluegrass trio Nickel Creek. He has also released a collaboration album with Edgar Meyer, who plays acoustic bass on The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Edgar Meyer, in addition to having released six solo albums to date, has played and collaborated with the likes of Alison Krauss, Béla Fleck, James Taylor, and Mark O’Connor, to name a few. The fourth and final member of the group is none other than Stuart Duncan on the fiddle. He has been recognized on numerous occasions by the Academy of Country Music as Fiddle Player of the Year, and he has won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album as part of the Nashville Bluegrass Band in both 1994 and 1996.