AFTER the good news from Jools Slater that he has started a new jazz joint in York (Tuesdays at the Phoenix, George Street), the bad news is that a regular gig of long standing closed this week. John Addy and Some Like It Hot have been playing Wednesday nights at the Old Orleans, Ousegate, for more than ten years, but last Wednesday was their final session.

Some Like It Hot is a busy band, coming as they do "direct from Broadway". Mainly they work for private and corporate functions, but the Old Orleans sessions were an opportunity for the general public to drop in and hear the band in informal mode. We can only hope that the Old Orleans may reconsider in the near future and decide to reinstate live music and Broadway star John Addy.

Wakefield Jazz is taking a couple of weeks Easter break, but Jazz in the Spa continues tomorrow night with the third visit by a couple of favourites. Clarinettist Dave Shepherd and vibraphone player Roger Nobes are two of Britain's finest instrumentalists. Together with the Brian Layton Trio they will be re-creating the classic sounds of the Benny Goodman small groups and some swinging jazz standards. Details from 01937 842544.

Also tomorrow night Howden Live will be presenting an intriguingly eclectic musical experiences at the Shire Hall, Market Place. Family Style is a real family band from a small town near Milan, Italy. Loosely in the blues idiom, the band also plays their own songs in a wide range of styles, funk, Chicago Blues, New Orleans-style beats and "cool, jazzy stuff", to quote the programme. Details from 01430 431535.

On Tuesday, Scarborough Jazz brings back the highly popular saxophone player Joel Purnell. Joel covers most of the bases in his style, from hard driving Griffin/Rollins to smooth Getz. Details from 01723 379818. A passing thought - after the Honda Jazz and the Hyundai Getz, will we soon be seeing a car named the Purnell, or a tribute to one of York's finest, the Boyd, the New or the Slater?

The days are long gone since all non-American jazz was considered inferior. The varied cultures of Europe have developed an equally varied selection of jazz styles, drawing influences from folk and classical music as well as the jazz mainstream.

The old gag about drummers being "people who hang around with musicians" is blown apart by Polar Bear, a British band led by drummer Seb Rochford, who has also composed all the music on their new album, Held On The Tips Of Fingers (Babel Records).

Rochford ploughs a personal jazz furrow, close in spirit to the previous generation of Brit-jazzers Django Bates, Iain Bellamy and Steve Arguelles, who all served with the trail-blazing Loose Tubes. Fellow ex-Loose Tubes man Mark Lockheart is a member of Polar Bear and falls naturally into Rochford's unique take on jazz.

Like the compositions of Bates, Ballamy and Arguelles, Rochford's alternate gentle contrapuntal melodies with mental, all-out, invigorating instrumental blasts. Beartown and To Touch The Red Brick echo the 1930s Berlin nightclub ambience familiar from Kurt Weill and Cabaret, with snare drum underpinning the two minor key saxophones of Lockheart and Pete Wareham. Instruments toss fragments of riffs and melodies between them and Rochford's compositions evoke Arabic, Eastern European and Israeli music.

Samples and electronics are so prevalent in pop and dance music, it was only a matter of time before jazz embraced them too - remember the experiments of Miles Davis. Polar Bear weave them seamlessly into the mix.

Polar Bear will drastically polarise opinion and Held On The Tips Of Fingers will be either rarely off your hi-fi or be relegated to shaving/makeup mirror.

I find it one of the most creative albums in a while and it has become a Jazz Notes favourite.

Updated: 08:52 Friday, March 25, 2005