Thu, 29 Nov 2018
picture: fiona bennett
Apollo Big Band, at Stockcross Village Hall, Friday, November 16
IT was a chilly November evening, but as we arrived at the Sutton Hall on Friday, we were hopeful the Apollo Big Band’s lively music might warm us up before the evening was out. Take the A Train opened the show with some lovely trombone ensemble playing and a couple of cheeky solos from Brian Yule (trumpet) and Glyn Howell (trombone). A few finger clicks, a ‘one-two-three-four’ from bandleader and first alto sax Les Bruce and the band launched into Basically Blues by Buddy Rich; the trumpet section’s counter-melody floating nicely over the saxes’ and Di Prince’s trombone solo really hit the spot too. A natural performer, this girl just gets up and gives us all she’s got and Neil Armstrong’s fabulous trumpet solos were a highlight of the evening too.
The audience loved Paul Cox, whose voice was reminiscent of the band singers of the 1940s (love the gangster- style two-tone shoes), but I would have liked a ballad to complement the many medium tempo swing numbers. Visually, some ‘acting’ would have helped and he should accept the applause before putting his mic away, fiddling with his iPad and picking up his water bottle. Warm, chunky chords preceded Georgia, with James Hearn playing the trumpet solo and it was great to see so many of the band’s talented musicians taking centre stage, ably supported by the rhythm section, Rob Maycock, Nick Tipper, Paul Richings and George Wicks. The first half closed with Slaughter on 10th Avenue, quite unusual with its symphonic Tone-Poem-For-Big-Band feel.
Happy half-time raffle winners took their seats and the second half opened with Ya Gotta Try Harder, with some nifty drum fills from Nick Tipper. Indian Summer gave us some gorgeous, mellow trombone slidey-ness from Glyn Howell and proving they have many strings to their collective bow, the band included the slinky Pink Panther theme and even a Brahms Hungarian Dance, with some corny vibrato from the saxes and Les giving it a bit of klezmer on his clarinet.
Paul varied his style with a Latin-feel Save The Last Dance For Me (The Drifters) and a catchy version of Freddie Mercury’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love to close the show. My table-mate, Mr Harry Norcup, said: “Ooh, that was lovely, it took me right back to the Coventry Hippodrome in the 1950s.”
Praise indeed and he was quite right, it was a lovely evening.