Howe_masterpiece_span3
March 2005

Steve Howe and Martin Taylor
Masterpiece Guitars
P3

Among the treasures purchased by the late multimillionaire collector Scott Chinery were some 11,000 pre-Castro Cuban cigars, the first issue of Superman and a genuine Batmobile used in the campy 1960s TV series. He also had a D'Angelico Teardrop guitar, the oh-so-rare archtop that guitaraholics dream of just seeing, let alone playing. The dream came true for Steve Howe of Yes and Scottish jazz guitarist Martin Taylor, who play Chinery's Teardrop as well as his vintage Strombergs, D'Aquistos, Gibsons, et al. on Masterpiece Guitars (P3), an hour-long romp through standards and old-timey originals that also serves as an audio tour of a guitar collection almost as kickass as a real, live Batmobile. With restraint I would never expect from Howe, the pair's arrangements sound as if conceived around the time the various guitars employed to play them were built. The playing is as delicate as the instruments used, which truly are the stars of the disc. Many of these guitars have rarely, if ever, been documented on record. The trem-picked Larson Hybrid C acoustic is the only voice I ever want to hear sing "Moon River" from now on; the pearly twang of dueting Gretsch Penguin and Chet Atkins models in "Goofus" could make a Massachusetts liberal whistle Dixie; and that sustaining, clear-as-rural air Teardrop-it's a shame there aren't more of those out there to wax records with. Masterpiece Guitars will sooth the souls of the hopelessly guitarded, but it should ring gorgeous to anyone's ears.

Originally published in March 2005
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