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Newbury big band pay tribute to recent D-Day anniversary with authentic sound of Glen Miller on American Patrol

Apollo Big Band jazz@stockcross at Sutton Hall, Stockcross on Friday, July 5


Sheila and Jonathan
Sheila and Jonathan

DESPITE the rain tipping down on Friday big-band lovers met again at Stockcross for Apollo’s latest concert.

The 17-piece band, under the musical direction of Les Bruce, took to the stage for their first tune Splanky. Their second number, Glenn Miller’s American Patrol, sounded truly authentic and was a fitting tribute to recent D-Day anniversaries.

I was impressed that members of the band were reading manuscripts from iPad screens. This is a high-tech method for conveniently storing, displaying and reading a large collection of musical parts.

Tonight, Sheila Waterfield returned as guest vocalist and opened with Nat King Cole’s Almost Like Being In Love, followed by They Can’t Take That Away From Me. Les Bruce introduced the next tune Off The Wagon and also its arranger, tenor sax player Jonathan Lewis, whose improvised solos were absolutely superb and exciting to listen to. He also helped to visually cue the band on several songs.

Apollo concluded the first set with an avant-garde bossa-nova version of Bye Bye Blackbird.

It was after that point there was the discovery that the main PA speaker stage-left hadn’t been working. It was very quickly fixed and afterwards the balance between band and vocals was greatly improved.

The start of the second set was pure rock’n’roll with Blues For Hire – the front line saxes taking the lead, horns behind providing the ‘rhythmic stabs’ and with great solos from Andy Richardson (sax) and Benedict Wood (trumpet).

We were then treated to a jazz-rock version of Watermelon Man with an unusual baritone sax solo from Lorna Mountford.

Sheila sustained the rock theme with Crazy Little Thing Called Love, telling us that incredibly, Freddy Mercury wrote it over 45 years ago!

The evening concluded with the inevitable encore and tonight’s was Bublé’s It Had Better Be Tonight

Apollo will return at Arlington Arts on Saturday, October 5 for the next concert featuring Steph Richardson.

Also returning for a curious ‘Bandaoke’ night featuring guest singers on November 1 at Stockcross, hosted by Martin Dixon.


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