LADY Anne Middleton’s Hotel, Skeldergate, is one of the most relaxed and comfortable venues in the city.

Chaplin’s Bar has armchairs and sofas, a late bar, real ale at pub prices and the best of jazz on Thursday and Friday. Tonight’s band will be Bejazzled with Mike Riley and tomorrow night Swingplicity will delight you with smooth cocktail jazz (01904 611570).

Guitarist Mike Riley spent many years touring the country with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, while continuing to live in Leeds. He finally left Syd after driving close on 90,000 miles in one year, so now his regular trips over to York are a piece of cake. Harrogate-based Swingplicity has Bob Mason (bass), Mike Barnum (guitar) and Bob Smeaton (piano).

Your busy jazz Sunday begins at Kennedy’s Café Bar at 1pm, with John Marley, Paul Smith and guests (01904 620222). The lively duo of pianist Karl Mullen and vocalist Jen Low alternates every Sunday between the Rook and Gaskill (01904 652050) and the Waggon and Horses (01904 637478). The pubs are opposite each other on Lawrence Street, so turn up and follow your ears at 7pm.

A short step away through Fishergate Bar will take you to the Phoenix Inn, George Street and the Ian Chalk Quartet at 8.30pm. The Phoenix matches Lady Anne’s in enthusiasm for jazz nights and on Monday the Kate Peters Quartet returns to George Street, the popular jam session following on Wednesday Night (01904 656401).

Your second helping of Karl Mullen will be on Tuesday on Nunnery Lane, when his wacky duo Encouraging the Loony (with drummer Neil Scott) will fill the Victoria Vaults pub with mayhem at 8.30pm (01904 654307).

Outside of York, BBC Radio 3 presenter/vocalist Claire Martin comes to Wakefield Jazz with the Nikki Iles Trio tomorrow night (01977 680542). On Saturday, Jazz in the Spa welcomes back the Savannah Jazz Band for some New Orleans jazz (01937 844898).

Scarborough Jazz runs every Wednesday at the Cask Inn, Cambridge Terrace, and next week’s guest will be saxophonist Mark Ellis (01723 500570).


Matt Ridley Trio, Thymos (Whirlwind Records) ***

BASS player Ridley sets out to create “a sound encompassing the exotic flavours and emotions of Middle Eastern music with the jazz sensibility of improvisation on complex structures”.

The most Eastern tracks, Sari Gelin and Hijaz, feature oud player Attab Haddad and saxophonist Jason Yarde. The long saxophone solo on Sari Gelin has Eastern embellishments alongside soulful slurs and smears, while the cadences of the out-of-tempo oud introduction to Hijaz is a reminder of the Arabian roots of flamenco.

Closest to conventional song forms are Homage to Kenny Wheeler and The River. Homage is reminiscent of John Dankworth, particularly due to the brightly melodic soprano saxophone of Jason Yarde; The River opens with a furious drum solo before slowing to a delicate piano ballad.

Many of the tracks indulge in long meandering sections, group and solo improvisations often with repetitive rhythmic figures, such as the section on the title piece which resembles a playful “vamp ‘til ready” Steve Reich-ian figure. This album displays staggeringly impressive musicianship, but its shifting focus is not always easy to follow.