Like a train or a tidal wave, you can hear a new Jeff Mills album coming before you see it, with a slow drip of news, videos and concert dates announced sometimes years in advance of the LP.
So it is with Wonderland, the new album from a new Jeff Mills project dropping in late April.
Wonderland marks the debut album from Jeff Mills’ new endeavor, the Zanza Project, a band described as “a collective mixture of jazz, Latin jazz and electronic music musicians.” The album finds the artist who often gazes to the stars seeking wisdom in his own musical roots and the roots of all contemporary music — the African percussion, the rhythms and the grooves at the heart of modern music. Though certainly evoking Mills’ recent collaboration with Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen, Wonderland is a fusion of everything from samba to jazz with electronic music, Mills’ drum programming setting up an ornate structure for what must be considered his most soulful compositions in years. Pursuit of the drum and the motherbeat is driving Jeff Mills’ career into some unexpected but truly wonderful places.
Though conceived in the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic, the Wonderland album is predicated upon the Zanza Project’s potential for playing before live audiences. “The masterplan of it was and still remains to create a band,” Axis states in a release. “Live performances are a large part of the way compositions were created so that the players could learn, rehearse and translate the compositions in live presentations.”
Wonderland is released on Mills’ suddenly ultra-prolific Axis Records, following the project’s debut in the Summer of 2021 with the When The Time Is Right EP on Millsart. (Two of the tracks from the earlier EP appear on Wonderland as well.)
Jeff Mills & the Zanza 22’s Wonderland is out now on CD and digital download at axisrecords.com.