“Everyone told me I was crazy,” laughs Jeremy Beck. “They’d ask, ‘What are you going to do with a band this big?’”A better question, it seems, might have been what can’t you do with a band this big? Blurring the lines between vintage soul, gospel, and rock, Jeremy Beck & The Heavy Duty Horns are an intoxicating musical powerhouse with a bold sound and a broad range, the kind of shape shifting collective that boasts versatility and virtuosity in equal measure. Fueled by a phalanx of funky horns and anchored by Beck’s mesmerizing keyboards and vocals, the 8-piece NYC band draws on decades of influence in their music, filtering everything from Prince and Lou Rawls to Tower of Power and Blood, Sweat & Tears through a modern lens. The result is ‘Take Me By The Hand,’ the group’s exhilarating debut and Beck’s first foray into the spotlight as a frontman.“I’ve spent my whole career playing with other artists,” says Beck, who’s toured and performed with everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Missy Elliott. “It’s been really rewarding, but it just felt like time to take the next step. I was ready to figure out what my music actually sounded like.”The roots of that sound stretch all the way back to rural Alabama, where Beck was raised in the Evangelical church. His first introduction to music came from the gospel choirs he heard on Sunday mornings, and as a youngster, he began taking classical piano lessons like his older brother. He fell in love with New Orleans piano as a teenager, and by the time he was in college, he was regularly skipping classes to travel to The Big Easy, where he’d spend his nights onstage in the city’s iconic clubs and bars and his days studying one-on-one with the kind of teachers you couldn’t find in any school. “These older guys could play their asses off,” says Beck, “but they’d learned totally by ear, so they had no idea how to write down any of this amazing stuff they knew. I was taking all these advanced music theory courses at school, so I’d just ask them to play and then I’d memorize everything they were doing. Being in that kind of environment just blew my mind, and it was the best education I could have asked for.”After finishing college, Beck headed to New York, where his prodigious talents earned him steady work as a sideman and first-call studio player. In fact, it was at a recording session that the concept for Jeremy Beck & The Heavy Duty Horns was born.“I was on a studio gig when I met this tenor sax player named Justin Flynn,” says Beck. “He was incredible, so I decided to ask him to write some horn charts for me. Next thing I know, we’d started a band together.”Flynn boasted his own remarkable resume, one that included tours and recordings with the likes of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Toots & The Maytals, among others, and the combination of his high-energy horn arrangements and Beck’s electrifying songwriting proved to be irresistible. The band quickly earned a devoted following, first in New York, and then on the road as they began touring and playing festivals around the country. When it came time to record their debut, Beck leaned into the power of those live performances, cutting the vast majority of the music in a single session.“We wanted to make something organic and real,” says Beck. “We wanted to create something that would come as close as possible to capturing the energy of seeing this band live on stage.”It’s that live energy that defines ‘Take Me By The Hand,’ which opens with the feel-good title track. Propelled by punchy horn riffs, slick guitar, and Beck’s velvety vocals, the tune is deceptively effortless, growing from a spare groove into full-on dance party as it sets the stage for an EP all about love and communication. The bluesy “Oh Baby!” for instance, absolutely oozes 70’s show-band vibes as its narrator pours his heart out over top of a sultry, organ-fueled slow jam. The playful “Somebody Call Frank,” meanwhile, combines clever wordplay and a gritty Fender Rhodes lick to send a toxic relationship off to the junkyard where it belongs. The energy rises to a peak on the EP’s final track, “Sing Hallelujah,” which mixes Van Morrison charm with smooth Stax soul as it celebrates the timeless beauty of a perfectly imperfect love affair.“When people ask what kind of music I grew up on, I just play them ‘Sing Hallelujah,’” says Beck. “The band plays it the same way we used to play church music when I was a kid. You start simple, and by the end, you just blow the audience away.”It may not be Sunday morning, and these might not be hymns, but one thing’s for sure: with ‘Take Me By The Hand,’ Jeremy Beck & The Heavy Duty Horns are ready to take you to church.