THURSDAY is a key jazz night in York, with three gigs to choose from tonight. The longest-running is the Mardi Gras Band, 8pm to 10.30pm at the Old White Swan, Goodramgate, a residency now in its 20th year (01904 540911). Bejazzled with Mike Riley are now well settled in at Chaplin’s Bar in the up-market Lady Ann Middleton’s Hotel, Skeldergate, at 8pm (01904 611570).

The tireless Paul Baxter returns to the Phoenix Inn, George Street tonight (01904 656401) with his impressive 5 Pieces of Silver, playing the music of the great Horace Silver, who created the “hard bop” style in the 1950s.

Ian Chalk begins a busy weekend tomorrow when he brings his quartet to Lady Anne’s at 8pm and then waltzes the band to the Phoenix Inn on Sunday night at 8.30pm (01904 656401).

Sunday rivals Thursday with two more gigs in addition to Ian’s Quartet. John Marley and Paul Smith plus one will be at Kennedy’s Café Bar, Little Stonegate, from 1pm (01904 620222) and Karl Mullen with Jen Low alternate weekly at the Waggon and Horses, Lawrence Street (01904 637478), or a the Rook and Gaskill (01904 674067) from 7pm.

The fabulous Kate Peters Quartet will be at the Phoenix Inn on Monday night and the Phoenix Jam session will welcome all comers on Wednesday.

The University of York concert season opens on Wednesday at 7.30pm with Jacqui Dankworth and Friends. Ms Dankworth was seen recently at the Edinburgh Festival in the Opera Lulu, but on Wednesday she will bring her outstanding jazz trio, featuring her husband Charlie Woods on piano, in a programme drawn from her new album Live to Love (01904 322439).

Outside of York, Wakefield Jazz welcomes American drummer Robert Castelli and is Boom Quartet tomorrow (01977 680542) and Jazz in the Spa will present one of last year’s most successful groups, T J Johnson and his band on Saturday night (01937 844898). Scarborough Jazz is every Wednesday at the Cask Inn, Cambridge Terrace and next week’s guest will be trombonist Matt Ball (01723 500570).


Ollie Howell, Suture and Stitches (Whirlwind Recordings) ****

THIS is a debut album for drummer/composer/bandleader Howell and all but one track are original compositions for a quintet of trumpet, tenor saxophone, piano, bass and drums.

The feeling is modern post-bop, sharp-edged, but with an unmistakeable direct line to such bands as Art Blakey and Horace Silver in its group dynamic and instrumental voicing.

Saxophonist Duncan Eagles has some of Tubby Hayes’ beefiness on Later On, right inside the best tradition, but with his own characterful spin.

Trumpeter Mark Perry features a ruminative solo introduction to 19th Day, before the ensemble takes on the pleasantly meandering melody. A World Apart begins with a casually cool rhythm and warms up to an exuberant up-tempo for the instrumental solos.

Angry Skies is a free-ranging piece with sharp-edged discordant harmonies. So Close, So Far demonstrates Howell’s fondness for the unison voicing of trumpet and saxophone in the style of Blakey and Silver. So, no heart-stopper, but classy music and virtuoso musicians stretching out on some great grooves. The band’s live tour comes to Bradford Jazz Club (BD1 2RX) tomorrow at 8.30pm and the Lescar, Sheffield S11 8ZF on Wednesday.