Tony Lujan is possibly one of the most underrated Jazz Artists of our time. At 44 this virtuoso trumpeter, composer, arranger and Band leader is too old to be a young lion, and you could imagine he would be a little miffed at being passed over by the media spotlight, but Tony Lujan is too busy making serious, groundbreaking music. His latest release "You Don't Know What Love Is", is a tour-de-force of composition and improvisation. This exponent of Latino Bop has assembled players with Puerto Rican, Costa Rican and Mexican Ancestry who all burn and perform at the highest levels of Jazz mastery. He values musicianship and innovation and gets it from his players.
The set opens with "The Science Project" which is a lesson in rhythmic agility, moving from 6/8 to 4/4 feel in a fluid and seamless way. This is intelligent music, you can actually feel it building brain cells. He moves from there to a funky groove "Mitch and Miles" dedicated to his twin boys and paying homage to Miles Davis and Blue Mitchell. Another of Lujan's heroes is honored in his rendition of Woody Shaw's "Moontrane". There is a tender Bolero, "Se Nota Que Haz Llorado" with Lujan on muted trumpet and the tune is reprised later with a vocal by Leonardo Lopez from Santa Fe, New Mexico, a performance that left me wanting more. His voice is seductive and warm with a Jazz and R&B feel that is consistent with the Latino Bop theme. The title tune, a traditional Jazz Ballad " You Don't Know What Love is", is reconstructed with a 6/8 feel and the melody has been compressed and extended to fit, but it all works in such a natural way you wonder why you didn't think of yourself. The Lujan original "Tiana, Tiana" is a relaxed Jazz Samba and the set finishes with another original in the Be-Bop vein, "Alone in the Crowd". There are two bonus tracks which feature the Pianist Kei Akagi and are free blowing sessions with the musicians playing full out and having fun with challenging material.
This is great music and a good time as we visit Tony Lujan's world which contains the tropical magic of Latin music, the complexity of Modern Jazz and the World View and language of Be-Bop.