Uncommon Ritual is the second album released by Sony Classical of string trios, following Appalachia Waltz, with unusual instrumentation and influences from bluegrass and folk music to create an Americana-style of traditional classical music. Uncommon Ritual adds jazz, blues, and elements from world music to the mix. Regarding the genre-defying nature of the music, New York times music critic Ben Ratliff wrote, "Despite its inclusion of Bach and Pablo de Sarasate's "Zigeunerweisen", Uncommon Ritual is not a classical album. But neither does it belong to bluegrass, traditional Irish music, jazz or any of the other traditions it lightly borrows from. It's sort of a chamberized health shake of music that's acceptable to a National Public Radio listenership: it comes with an unmistakable patina of culture, the pieces are brief and funny and the sound of the music is comfortably familiar." The trio includes double-bassist and composer Edgar Meyer, banjoist and composer Béla Fleck, and mandolin player Mike Marshall. The album is noted for the variety of instruments used, and the performers' ability to change instruments fluently within songs. The pairing of these three musicians was new for the recording of this album; however, Meyer and Fleck's musical relationship dates back to the mid '80s.