Album Remarks & Appraisals:
New album from legendary Grammy®-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Grammy®-nominated Silk Road Ensemble. Featuring special guest artists Rhiannon Giddens, Bill Frisell, Sarah Jarosz, Abigail Washburn, Lisa Fischer, Gregory Porter and more. Companion album to the documentary feature film, The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble directed by Oscar® and Emmy®-winning director Morgan Neville. The Music of Strangers will be released in cinemas nationwide in June and air on HBO in the fall.
The new album from Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble will surprise and delight with imaginative sounds that transform the traditional musical landscape. Sing Me Home is the sixth album by the Grammy®-nominated Silk Road Ensemble and its founding member and guiding light, Yo-Yo Ma. The album features special guest performers Rhiannon Giddens, Sarah Jarosz, Abagail Washburn, Gregory Porter, Lisa Fischer, Grammy Award®-winning jazz guitarist, Bill Frisell and more. Produced by Silk Road Ensemble member Johnny Gandelsman and Grammy Award® winner Kevin Killen (U2, Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, David Bowie), Sing Me Home examines the ever-changing idea of home, with original and traditional tunes composed or arranged by members of the Ensemble's unique collective of global artists. Each piece invites listeners to explore the "music of home" through the individual experiences of Ensemble members, many of whom are immigrants. The result is a compelling collection of innovative and deeply moving tributes to the rich cultural heritage of the Balkans, China, Galicia, India, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Mali people of Roma, Syria and the United States. Sing Me Home is a companion album, developed and recorded alongside The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble, a documentary feature film from Oscar® and Emmy®-winning director Morgan Neville that tells the story of the Ensemble and Silk Road, its parent organization. The Music of Strangers will be released theatrically nationwide in June and will air on HBO in the fall.
Audio Mixer: Kevin Killen.
Liner Note Authors: Cristina Pato; Sarah Small; Johnny Gandelsman; Kinan Azmeh; Michael Ward Bergeman; Haruka Fujii; Rob Mathes; Yo-Yo Ma; Colin Jacobsen ; Shane Shanahan; Wu Man; Jeremy Kittel; Sandeep Das; Kojiro Umezaki.
Recording information: Africa Studio, Bamako, Mali; Avatar Studios, New York City; MSR Studios, New York City; Son Natural, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain; Zona Dolce, New York City.
Director: Christopher Marion.
Photographers: Lyle Owerko; Sam Matamoros.
The potential buyer encountering this release by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble is apt to form several mistaken impressions of its contents. From the track list and accompanying description you will learn that it is "the companion album to the Morgan Neville documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble." And the long list of "featured" artists suggests the type of lazy, all-star album famous artists tend to phone in during the later stages of their careers. Neither of these impressions correspond with the considerable riches here. The music is entirely effective independently of the little-publicized film. And, more importantly, the real "featured artists" here are not the named stars (who skew toward younger members of the new acoustic scene like bluegrasser Sarah Jarosz), but the members of the Silk Road Ensemble themselves. The structure of the album, as with so many of the creations of these remarkable artists, is unique. The Silk Road members, and a few visitors, select music of personal significance to them, many of them related in a general way to the theme of home. Then, a guest musician with skills appropriate to the music was added. With a range of source material running from Heart and Soul to Mali to the Balkans to East Asia, the resulting fusions are never less than interesting and are often marvelous. Sample the much-recorded St. James Infirmary Blues (track 11) in its unique realization here with accordionist Michael Ward Bergeman (one of the guest Silk Roaders), Chinese yangqin player Reylon Yount, and the wonderful blues-country vocalist Rhiannon Giddens, a border crosser herself. The album gives insights into the histories of the Silk Road players, and indeed into the musical and personal depths that have made this ensemble one for the ages, and its leader a true musical exemplar of our time. ~ James Manheim
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