Jeff Mills & the Zanza 22 – Wonderland
The Zanza Project celebrates the spirit of life. It’s an accumulation of feelings translated down into melodies and harmonies that reflect a particular view about the World and Space we music lovers occupy. The masterplan of it was and still remains to create a band, a collective mixture of Jazz, Latin Jazz and Electronic Music musicians under the moniker of Zanza. Which in Islam means “most beautiful”. The numeric reference: “22” refers to the year in which this new music is created and presented.Live performances are a large part of the way compositions were created so that the players could learn, rehearse and translate the compositiions in live presetnations.
The Wonderand album is composed and produced by Jeff Mills, originally from Detroit where he learned percussion and drums at an early age who became to be a world-renowned figure of Techno Dance Music but who was greatly inspired by the Jazz Rock Fusion, New Wave and Industrial Body Music bands of the 1970 and 80s. We can see its influence in the way he approaches Dance music today – the genre of music and form in which he’s became and still remains highly noted for. Here, Mills clearly displays his skill as a composer and musician. A side of him where his wider understanding of music is purposed exposed.
The idea to create such a concept came from the idea called “slow life”. A slower approach to aspects of everyday life. Where the pace of time is stretched to a less detectable tempo. It’s been suggested that a fast-paced environment can resemble chaotic nature, while the notion of ‘slowing down’ or “pulling back” implies that people would be able to enjoy life more. And it is this aspect of “more” that steered the direction and construction of this LP. Composed during and throughout the current COVID 19 pandemic, it is obvious to apply this concept relaxed time into the making of this album .
Throughout Wonderland, it is not hard to hear how Mills displays more of his relationships with Jazz, Italo Disco, Samba, and his long, but discreet history with composing more structures works like classical arrangements and film soundtracks. But at a closer distance, we hear the path that lend to projects like early Underground Resistance w/ Mike Banks (Nation2Nation and World to World Eps), The Beneficiaries w/ renowned Poet Jessica Care Moore and Detroit Techno elder Eddie Fowlkes, Tomorrow Comes The Harvest w/ Afro Beat creator Tony Allen and the many other collaborations throughout his career. Here, we not only hear his handywork on percussion, but also the keys (piano, organ and synth solos shed light on just how deep his diversity runs.