Best wishes to all for 2007. Thanks for your patience during the holiday hiatus -- regular(-ish) blogging will resume soon, but in the meanwhile I thought I'd open up comments for those who want to have the traditional "Best of 2006" discussion. I didn't hear nearly enough records this year to make any grand pronouncements, but over the next month I will try to squeeze in a few words about some notable 2006 recordings that I either didn't have time to review at the time of release, or didn't get around to snapping up until just now.
I usually take advantage of Vancouver's post-Boxing Day sales to stock up on CDs. The prices are still the best in North America, even with the weak US dollar, but it's getting harder and harder to find the records I'm interested in in brick-and-mortar CD stores. The once-mighty A&B Sound, whose densely-packed aisles I haunted practically every weekend when I was growing up, is now open and spacious, unencumbered by either CDs or customers. I'd been planning on picking up Ornette's Sound Grammar, Vijay Iyer's Raw Materials, the Reich Phases box, and The Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America, among others -- but the Seymour Street flagship store didn't stock any of them.
Meanwhile, I thought I'd throw this open to the commenters -- what did you think of this year's crop of recordings? Did blogdonia's darlings, like TV On The Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain and Joanna Newsome's Ys, live up to the hype? What about Beck's (apparently) Scientology-inspired (seriously, now, WTF???) The Information or Yo La Tengo's anthemic I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass?
On the big band front, Jim McNeely put out three notable records this year, one each with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Swiss Jazz Orchestra, and the Danish Radio Big Band. And in addition to Ornette's widely praised Sound Grammar, there were notable '06 jazz releases from Bob Brookmeyer, Andrew Hill, Keith Jarrett, Randy Weston, Joe Lovano with Gunther Schuller, Jason Moran, Branford Marsalis, John Hollenbeck, Dave Douglas, Don Byron with Bang on a Can, and many others. I'll be sharing my thoughts on some of this stuff in the days ahead, but feel free to get the ball rolling in comments.