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Apollo gig jam-packed with big band and jazz lovers

Jazz@Stockcross: Apollo Big Band with guest Sheila Waterfield at Stockcross Hall on Friday, February 10. Review by KEVIN DYSON

It was Apollo’s first performance of 2023 at Stockcross to a hall jam-packed with big band and jazz lovers.

Apollo is fast gaining popularity with regular gigs and special guest singers. This time the featured vocalist was Sheila Waterfield, renowned for her appearances all over the UK.

Sheila Waterfield and Apollo, picture Annette Calow
Sheila Waterfield and Apollo, picture Annette Calow

Apollo’s opening gambit was the timeless Satin Doll (Nestico arrangement). I loved the way the band opened with just the rhythm section then built the atmosphere as the band’s various horn sections joined in, creating a full exciting ensemble.

Introducing Sheila Waterfield, musical director Les Bruce told us it was a great pleasure for Apollo to host her appearance with the band that evening. Her first vocal was Orange Coloured Sky. Her songs comprised a collection of popular jazz standards including Lady is a Tramp and The Very Thought Of You. We also enjoyed contemporary numbers like Carole King’s Natural Woman and Freddie Mercury’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

Apollo’s performance was absolutely the best that I’d ever heard them play. They were tightly together with a carefully balanced sound at just the right volume.

Apollo, picture Kevin Dyson
Apollo, picture Kevin Dyson

Slo Funk demonstrated the band’s musical discipline with precise syncopation. I had never heard Apollo play anything like this before – utterly funky and I must congratulate them.

We were treated with many solos from Apollo’s talented musicians and very worthy of note was Trevor Heyward’s beautiful and emotional tenor sax rendition of Misty. Lorna Mountford’s flute poignantly counterpointed Neil Armstrong’s resilient flugel passage in Marianne.

Afterwards, Les Bruce disclosed Neil’s imminent retirement from Apollo. As a tribute, Apollo gifted a bottle of fine gin in gratitude.

The evening concluded with Sheila’s final set of lively vocals including Mambo Italiano (which had us all joining in) and the 12-bar swing of Sweet Home Chicago.

The encore concluded the evening with Henry Mancini’s It Had Better Be Tonight.

Apollo are a great band and their diary lists many forthcoming gigs – one featuring ‘celebrity sax-virtuoso’ Simon Curry on Friday, July 14.

Visit www.apollobigband.co.uk for more information.

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