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Music Review: String instrumentalists Ma, Thile, Duncan and Meyer offer cohesive blend on CD
Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" (CBS Masterworks)
Classically trained bassist Edgar Meyer began exploring links between orchestral and folk-based string music some twenty-five years ago, and the results have been bountiful: One-time bluegrass musicians like Mark O'Connor and Bela Fleck now compose symphonic works, while acclaimed classical masters like Yo-Yo Ma regularly record with string instrumentalists from Nashville and other musical centers.
The beauty and excitement of these experimentations reach an apex with "The Goat Rodeo Sessions," which features Ma, Meyer, bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan and mandolin wizard Chris Thile. The four virtuosos ignore genre restraints to impart on an inspiring journey full of exhilarating string music that ranges from beautiful to mind-spinning.
The strength comes from the compositions, credited to Meyer/Thile/Duncan, with vocalist Aoife O'Donovan, featured on two tunes, adding lyrics. These aren't neatly arranged, tightly composed quartet pieces gently crossing classical and vernacular styles; instead, they are unpredictable and often untidy musical journeys that are rhythmic, noisy, moody and, yes, at times pretty.
During an era when music can sound so robotically processed, "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" celebrates the possibilities of stellar musicians throwing out the rules and embarking on an open-ended journey together.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: One might not think of a group consisting of a classical bass, cello, fiddle and mandolin of being able to create music that could be described as funky. The wondrous "Quarter Chicken Dark," however, is indeed funky ' as well as, at other times, mournful and joyous.