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Tony Lujan: You Don’t Know What Love Is

Tony Lujan’s latest, You Don’t Know What Love Is (Bella), has some ups and downs, but there’s no point in dwelling on the flaws when there’s so much to admire. First there’s Lujan’s iron chops, which are heard most persuasively on the Mozambique-styled title track. Next are the sidemen he’s gathered, including David Sanchez who acquits himself quite nicely on Edsel Gomez’s churning arrangement of “Moontrane.” Gomez also lays down the deep-cut groove with his funky organ on “Mitch and Miles,” named after Lujan’s two greatest influences, Blue Mitchell and Miles Davis. There are also some very hip tunes, like “The Science Project,” which features Miguel Zenon on alto, Luis Bonilla on trombone and the seriously burning Richie Flores working the 6/8 and 4/4 grooves on conga. Smooth-jazz fans might be interested in the jazz-samba “Tiana Tiana,” with Vinny Valentino’s fluid guitar solo, and Latin romantics might enjoy the two love-jazz boleros “Se Nota Que Has Llorado” (vocal and instrumental versions), but these could also be just the thing to cure chronic insomnia. Just when you start to throw in the towel, along comes the final piece, “The Message Within.” This Dolphyesque tune gets un poco loco with free-jazz wailing, odd meters and intervals and a blistering trumpet-drum duet that kicks out the jams.

Originally Published