AT various periods over the past 30 years, the great number of live jazz gigs in York tempted a name-change from the Chocolate City to the Jazz City. Given the renewed activity in York's chocolate world, perhaps the City of Chocolate is apt once more, but live jazz is still going strong every week.

Among the success stories is the Thursday afternoon trad jazz session run each week by Alan Bramley at the Cross Keys in Tadcaster Road, Dringhouses.

"Now well into their second year, these sessions continue with a rich variety of local jazz bands playing the kind of jazz that was so popular in the Fifties and Sixties," says Alan, a retired professor of engineering at the University of Bath, who not only organises the sessions but also plays trombone with several of the bands.

After spending much of his working life teaching and researching, but always keeping his hand in playing jazz, it was a great joy for Alan to return to his city of birth to dedicate much more time to keeping jazz alive. "The weekday afternoon sessions have been very successful and several other jazz venues up and down the country are following suit, whereas some of the evening jazz clubs are closing down due to poor attendances," he notes.

"Attendances at the Cross Keys have been consistently good, and to maintain the audience interest, there’s a repeating sequence of local bands, including Ron Burnett’s Mardi Gras Jazz Band, a long-established and highly regarded York band, and the Yorkshire Stompers, featuring the legendary Frank Brooker on reeds, with their regular appearances at jazz clubs in the north."

Brooker also brings his Happy Chappies Band to the Cross Keys; highly skilled York musicians Tim New and James Lancasters front the Tim New Jazz Band with Bob Smeaton organising the musical arrangements; and Bramley, on his return to Yorkshire after a 20-year absence, has resurrected his Leeds band 7th City Jazz, led by Eddie Websdale on trumpet.

Some of the bands booked to appear at the Cross Keys are from further afield, such as The Tuba Dudes, New Orleans Wiggle, John Pashley and Friends Jazz Band, The Ryedale Jazz Band, Funky Butt Hall Jazz Men and international jazz singer Sue Kibbey.

Stuart Weston, the pub's proprietor, says: "The Thursday afternoon jazz sessions have brought a vibrant, exciting feel to what would otherwise be a very ordinary day in the pub." More details of the bands appearing there can be found at

York Press:

Rachel Croft: rising at The Phoenix on Mondays

At present, the wider jazz diary for York looks like this:

Mondays: The Phoenix, George Street, 8.30pm to 11pm, pianist Karl Mullen and vocalist Rachel Croft, plus others.

Wednesdays: The Phoenix, 8.30pm to 11pm, Jazz House Band, organised by trumpeter James Lancaster every week.

Thursdays: Cross Keys, Dringhouses, 1pm to 3.30pm. The Eagle and Child, High Petergate, 8.30pm to 11pm, James Lancaster's changing repertoire of alternating small groups, featuring his own band, The Kate Peters Quartet, Bob Smeaton`s One Foot In The Groove and Ron Burnett`s Mardi Gras Quartet.

Fridays: The Phoenix, Karl Mullen. solo piano.

Sundays: Kennedys, Little Stonegate, 1pm to 4pm, live jazz; 9pm onwards more live music. The Phoenix, 8.30pm to 11pm, changing repertoire of alternating groups, including Ian Chalk`s Firebird Quartet, Chris Moore/Georg Ruismeyer Band and various guest bands.