Young Pilgrims – Little Things

little things(Stoney Lane Records)

Young Pilgrims, the gang of horns and drums led by trombonist Richard Foote, has become a bit of a standard-bearer for the vibrancy of the jazz scene in the city of Birmingham. The band is made up of familiar young faces from the Birmingham scene (with an immigrant from the big smoke or two) and its monthly Pilgrimage sessions, which always feature an opening set from the hosts plus two guest groups, have become renowned for joyous nights of a leaping-in-the-air kind.

Little Things is the Pilgrims’ debut disc and contains many familiar tunes from their live set, including the title track and the surefire Anstey’s Zen Place, named for Rob Anstey, recently of this parrish but hanging out in London last time I looked.

Foote’s starting point for the band was the New Orleans marchers, but he is not a man overly hung up on heritage – he has always wanted to make music that is about now, and about his and his friends’ tastes in melody, harmony and groove. What it always is is a good-time, get-up-and-jump-around band, but at the same time it’s satisfying to listen to without getting out of your chair. The arrangments are inventive, the counter melodies clever, the horn voicings not always obvious.

Young Pilgrims (Photo © Iza Korsak)

Young Pilgrims (Photo © Iza Korsak)

Le Poisson Rouge is a classic Foote composition, strong on catchy hook lines, containing really danceable beats, and arranged to give space and variety, breaking down into trumpet solo over sousaphone and drums, building through trombone solo and back into a free-for-all before the drums take over.

The band also has some tidy soloists: all three trumpeters, Sean Gibbs, Mike Adlington and Aaron Diaz, baritone players Chris Maddock and Andy Isherwood, and the ‘bone men, Foote and Kieran McLeod. Drumming up a storm are Jonathan Silk and Euan Palmer (if you think they are loud out in the street, wait till you hear them in a small pub room – they threaten to explode your head), and Michael Owers is the big man on sousaphone.

Young Pilgrims – full of what Richard Foote would call “huge love” – are ultimately a live band, but it’s great to have a recording by them to perk the energy levels at home. Musical Red Bull.



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