Voyage Of The Acolyte and Please Don't Touch. Phil Keaggy was (and I gather still is) a Christian-Contemporary singer-songwriter, but took a break from that after his first couple of albums to make this all-instrumental masterpiece that fully showcased his writing and playing skills.
From a couple of videos I've watched (unrelated to this album), Keaggy didn't frequently get nicknamed 'the greatest nine-fingered guitarist in the world' and suchlike for nothing, and although The Master & The Musician only hits cooking temperature at a few well-chosen moments (mostly toward the end of the two long suites, Reflections and Medley), the subtlety of a lot of these tracks makes the material shine all the brighter. The album opens with a synth sequence overlaid with a nifty E-bow display (Keaggy was an early adopter of the device) before settling into an acoustic pattern that gets gradually overlaid with chiming electric lines. Following that, the mellow jazz-fusion of Agora (The Marketplace), along with Follow Me Up later on, offers the most upbeat material and memorable, masterful-but-unpretentious lead lines.
For the most part though, it was the acoustic tracks on this album that brought Hackett to mind for me, especially in the choice of flute and other wind instruments to accompany the guitar. The Castle's Call, Wedding In The Country Manor and Deep Calls Unto Deep all offer memorable melodies and gorgeous technique throughout, and could've sat proudly on a Steve Hackett album (or indeed, an album by that other ex-Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips - whose back catalogue I've yet to take a proper stab at) of the era. And although there's no lyrics on Master & Musician, that doesn't mean no vocals - Keaggy and his wife Bernadette can both be heard on the cute little beatboxing experiment Mouthpiece, and harmonising sweetly and wordlessly on the penultimate medley. All in all, an absolute gem of an album for anyone wanting to hear an underrated (in the secular music world, at least) guitarist/composer at his most inspired.
mega / zippy