When drawing up my list, I was surprised by just how few of the albums I’d bought this year were actually from 2006. Several of the candidates turned out to be 2005 releases. There are also some key 2006 albums I haven’t heard yet: Ornette’s Sound Grammar for one. But these are all worth hearing, even if they were selected from a small field.

Best Brand New 2006 Album: It’s Later Than You Think, by Norma Winstone, Colin Towns and the NDR Big Band. Good songs (mainly modern ones by folk such as Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen), good arrangements, nice playing, great singing.

Best Archive Stuff Issued for the 1st Time: Triplicity, by Albert Mangelsdorff. A fine freebop set originally recorded for NDR in 1979 but only just released on CD. Mangelsdorff does some of his multiphonics stuff but largely concentrates on playing straightahead bluesy trombone, with excellent support from Arild Andersen and Pierre Favre.

Local Heroes Worthy of More Attention: A Day for a Reason, by the Burt – Macdonald Sextet with Keith Tippett. The Burt – MacDonald groups have a style all of their own, combining elements of free improvisation with melodic pop songs. If Derek Bailey had played guitar in Everything But The Girl, it might have sounded a bit like this. But it probably wouldn’t have. Keith Tippett plays some fine piano.

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