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Bublé evening with Newbury's 'fantastic' Apollo Big Band

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Apollo Big Band at Stockcross Village Hall, on Friday, May 6. Review by Kevin Dyson

‘Big band lovers’ packed Stockcross Village Hall on Friday for Apollo’s latest performance.

The 17-strong line up led by musical director Les Bruce opened with their rendition of Sammy Nestico’s jazz classic Smack Dab in the Middle. Immediately my foot was tapping.

Apollo Big Band at Stockcross
Apollo Big Band at Stockcross
Apollo Big Band at Stockcross
Apollo Big Band at Stockcross
Nigel Adair
Nigel Adair

The overall sound was very comfortable and well balanced, relying on typical ‘acoustic placement’ of big-band musicians with softer saxophones in the front line and louder horns behind.

Tonight’s performance was to be very Bublé-esque, as smooth and suave ‘Michael Bublé look-a-like’ Nigel Adair joined the band on stage to sing six covers of the renowned Canadian vocalist throughout the evening .

Of those Bublé covers, Moondance (David Foster’s arrangement) and Feeling Good (originally sung by Nina Simone) were performed superbly by Adair with Apollo’s thoughtful bluesy accompaniment.

I was very pleased the band included homage to American musician Paul Anka with a very surprising jazz treatment of Wonderwall, more familiar to me by rock band Oasis.

During the evening we were treated to some very fine solo improvisations, notably Diane Prince on trombone and trumpet solos from Brian Yule and James Hearn.

It was fascinating and entertaining to see band members switching instruments – each instrument having its own idiosyncrasies despite that on some the note fingerings are similar. I noticed that during the arrangement of Killer Joe, three out of the four trumpet players were blowing flugel horns and on the arrangement of Let’s Dance, Les Bruce soloed on clarinet. Simon Ridge swapped double bass fora Fender Precision, but top prize for the most instruments played has to go to multi-talented Lorna Mountford who played, despite an arm injury, baritone sax, alto sax, bass clarinet and flute.

The evening concluded with the lively Sing Sing Sing and featured Nick Tipper on drums – the man who played the most notes during the whole evening.

Nigel Adair returned centre-stage for the evening’s encore with Bublé’s It Had Better be Tonight.

What a great evening and I hope many more people come to see Apollo in the future because they are a fantastic band.

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