One of the hottest horn bands we have is this one from Montreal and what a great idea to record them live. They often back Dawn Tyler Watson and indeed, they have just finished a tour with her, but this is just the Ben Racine Band in all its glory: Ben Racine is a topflight big band singer and he keeps his guitar solos succinct and to the point with Kaven Jalbert, tenor sax; Matthieu “Moose” Mousseau, baritone; Charles Trudel, keys; François Dubé, bass and Nicky Estor, drums (and recording engineer/producer). Live albums rarely include new material but we are treated to two new songs here with nine originals on this generous program coming from their two previous studio ones, One of a Kind and Grand New Brew. There are also four non-originals that span the history of horn bands: Racine opens with Duke Robillard’s “Addiction”. We also get Billy “The Kid” Emerson’s “The Pleasure’s All Mine”, Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Cuttin’ In” and James Hunter’s “No Smoke Without Fire”, fine performances all. The ones from the studio albums were already very good but all benefit from the energy of live performance, especially this one. “Contagious” is an excellent new one about a woman who is dancing too close. Moose gets the solo here and it’s a keeper. “Move On” is also a highlight, about the ending of a relationship, Jalbert get the solo here. I’ve split them up by category but they are shuffled and form a seamless concert recording. This is ensemble playing of the highest order, March 22 at the Maison de la culture, Montreal-Nord was clearly the place to be. Now we can all have a taste. The album will only be available through the web site, www.benracineband.com or from the stage. It will be available on streaming services at some point in the future.

September 2019 - Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley
Loose Blues News - September 2019