10 Albums You Need to Know: July 2021

A new collection of a spiritual jazz legend’s previously unreleased recordings; a visionary guitarist’s personal response to the world coming to a standstill during the COVID pandemic; a unique reimagining of the music of Miriam Makeba. All this and more in our list of ten albums out this month (July 2021) that you need to know about.


Jeff Lorber Fusion, Space-Time (Shanachie)

Release date: July 2

Space-Time is keyboardist/composer Jeff Lorber’s new record with his Jeff Lorber Fusion group with longtime trio-mates drummer Gary Novak and bassist Jimmy Haslip, plus special guests. The album showcases new and original material including a track that was penned for the late great Chick Corea shortly after the piano great’s passing. Order Space-Time here.


Vince Mendoza, Freedom Over Everything (Modern)

Release date: July 4

Vince Mendoza returns to his roots as a composer and conductor on Freedom Over Everything, a politically charged fusion of jazz and classical music in the Third Stream vein. The music is performed with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and a noteworthy lineup of special guests, including Joshua Redman, Antonio Sanchez, Derrick Hodge, The Roots’ premier MC Black Thought and more. Pre-order Freedom Over Everything here.


JD Allen, Queen City (HighNote/Savant)

Release date: July 9

Queen City, JD Allen’s new solo saxophone album, is described via a press release as carrying a real sense of confrontation between Allen and his horn, as well as a response to his period of introspection in the times of COVID. The record encompasses a wide range of musical languages and an equally broad spectrum of emotions, alternating moments of beauty illustrating hope, love and acceptance with aggressive phrases expressing frustration and anger. Order Queen City here.


William Parker, Mayan Space Station / Painters Winter (AUM)

Release date: July 23

William Parker releases this month a pair of new trio albums. The first, Mayan Space Station, is a collection of psych-rock and multi-hued blues performed with Ava Mendoza on electric guitar and Gerald Cleaver on drums. The second, Painters Winter, adds a decidedly more meditative component to the deep grooves and melodies, with the bass great performing alongside Daniel Carter (reeds, trumpet, flute) and Hamid Drake (drums). Order them here.


Alice Coltrane, Kirtan: Turiya Sings (Impulse!/UMe)

Release date: July 16

Kirtan: Turiya Sings is an album of rare and never-before-heard solo-and-organ ashram recordings by spiritual jazz legend Alice Coltrane from the early ’80s, originally recorded for the students of her ashram. The record is released as part of the Impulse! label’s 60th-anniversary celebrations and was produced by Alice’s son Ravi Coltrane. Order it here.


Dave McMurray, Grateful Dedication (Blue Note)

Release date: July 16

Saxophonist Dave McMurray’s sophomore release for Blue Note, Grateful Dedication, finds him taking his gritty, soulful Detroit sound and reimagining the “flower empowered” songs of San Francisco icons, the Grateful Dead. “The more I listened, the more I knew these songs would eventually become a vehicle for my jazz expression,” says McMurray via a statement. Pre-order Grateful Dedication here.


John McLaughlin, Liberation Time (Abstract Logix)

Release date: July 16

John McLaughlin offers his personal response to the world coming to a standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic via his new album, which he defines as “an explosion of music in my mind.” Liberation Time is a multi-lineup affair characterized by both joy and reflection that even finds the visionary guitarist/composer occasionally returning to the piano for the first time since the early ’70s. Order it here.


Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, An Elegant Ritual (DÜNYA)

Release date: July 16

Turkish-American pianist/composer Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol strikes a balance between tradition and innovation on his first trio album to date. An Elegant Ritual is a fascinating fusion of Turkish music with contemporary jazz language, featuring James Heazlewood-Dale on acoustic bass and George Lernis on drums, gongs and bendir. Order it here.


Orrin Evans, The Magic of Now (Smoke Sessions)

Release date: July 23

Pianist Orrin Evans leads a quartet of A-list partners, including bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Bill Stewart and saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins on his 20th album as a leader. The Magic of Now is an eight program exemplifying state-of-the-art modern jazz, including three tunes apiece by Evans and Wilkins, and recorded during the second weekend of December 2020. Order it here.


Somi, Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba (Salon Africana)

Release date: July 30

Somi honors groundbreaking South African singer/songwriter/civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, reimagining some of her signature songs on her new record, Zenzile. The album also features special guests Angelique Kidjo, Gregory Porter, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Seun Kuti and more, and anticipates the vocalist’s forthcoming theatre production on Makeba’s life. Order Zenzile here.


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