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Yo-Yo Ma

Not Our First Goat Rodeo is out now

The Grammy Award-winning group reunites with the long-awaited follow-up to The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Not Our First Goat Rodeo was released by Sony Masterworks on June 19.

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Scarcely Cricket
The Trappings

Sony Music Masterworks has released the long-awaited follow-up to the Grammy Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Both sets of Goat Rodeo sessions combine the talents of the four solo artists, each a Grammy Award-winning talent in his own right, to create a singular sound that’s part composed, part improvised, and uniquely American. The music is so complex to pull off that the group likens it to a goat rodeo — an aviation term for a situation in which 100 things need to go right to avoid disaster. Both the first album and the new recording also feature the voice and artistry of singer-songwriter and fellow Grammy Award-winner Aoife O’Donovan, who rejoins the group as a guest on Not Our First Goat Rodeo.


“Goat Rodeo never comes close to the pulling-every-which-way willfulness of its title’s implications. Instead it lets its individual players show their own qualities, then prove how well they cohere and coalesce into a choice, unpredictable conversation. What on one cut is a sunlit dream song (“The Trappings”) becomes on another a feverish preoccupation with a rapidly repeated note (“Nebbia”). But wait, just when you think that latter number is stuck in its fixed groove, a skein of long, languid phrases arises from the pileup. Here the play of opposites becomes a moving, hard-won acquiescence, not unlike what happens in the slow movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Lovely and light-fingered as it often is, this second Goat Rodeo also takes some daredevil rides into the unknown. As Ma has often demonstrated, music that takes risks can pay handsome rewards.”
San Francisco Classical Voice

“Not Our First Goat Rodeo is a delicate ecosystem of sound. Like most ecosystems, any little change could bring the whole thing down, but here it’s perfectly balanced. At the climax of “Scarcely Cricket” and “Not for Lack of Trying,” each instrument takes on a life of its own. Rather than one sticking out and the rest supporting, they often each take their own stage, in a cacophony of interlocking chaos. A person can listen to the same track multiple times and get totally different impressions as the ear picks up new parts each time. It’s the sonic equivalent of a forest path that demands multiple explorations to be fully known.”

Listen to Yo-Yo Ma talk about the album on NPR.

The new release builds on 2011’s genre-defying The Goat Rodeo Sessions, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Classical, Classical Crossover, and Bluegrass charts and remained at No. 1 for 11 weeks on the Bluegrass chart. Marking Yo-Yo Ma’s highest debut on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, the release went on to break into the chart’s top 20 albums, where it peaked at No. 18. NPR’s World Cafe called the album, which received Grammy Awards for Best Folk Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, “organic yet composed in a way that only four deeply talented, in-tune musicians could make it,” with traces of, “Appalachia[n], Chinese, classical, Celtic, and jazz influences. If there was ever an album — or an unlikely band — that embodies the word ‘eclectic,’ this is it.”

The Los Angeles Times has described the collaboration as “unlikely musicians on unlikely instruments … part blues, part bluegrass and a smidgen of Bach.” The four musicians come from diverse backgrounds: Yo-Yo Ma (cello), a classical cellist known for his cross-genre collaborations and deep belief in culture’s essential role in society; Stuart Duncan (fiddle, banjo), a multi-instrument bluegrass virtuoso who has played with artists from Dolly Parton to George Strait; Edgar Meyer (bass), a double bassist and composer who has written for musicians from Béla Fleck and Zakir Hussain to Emanuel Ax and Hilary Hahn; and Chris Thile (mandolin, fiddle, guitar, vocals), the mandolinist wunderkind who fronts bands such as Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers and hosts public radio’s Live from Here. Their traditions and experiences intersect in this collaboration to create a compelling sound that is at once global and American, a shared voice that speaks to the moment in which we live.


“Haunting, invigorating, often breathtaking clash of classical, bluegrass, folk, jazz and free-form music traditions”
Los Angeles Times

“An endlessly moving and ambitious album…”
NPR’s World Cafe

“The four virtuosos ignore genre restraints to impart on an inspiring journey full of exhilarating string music that ranges from beautiful to mind-spinning.”
Associated Press

Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, Milan Records, OKeh, Portrait and Masterworks Broadway imprints.