Koop Lee's Palace, Toronto ON - March 4, 2003

The future sound of jazz may lie in broken beats and sampled vinyl, but as Koop proved well, the soul of this genre swings best when it's live. With core members Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zimark on keys and laptop, the Swedish duo offered an acoustic translation of their current disc, Waltz for Koop, with a stellar cast of musicians on drums, upright bass, vibraphone and voice. The guest players not only knew the ins and outs of Koop's studio-originated tracks, but sought to reinvigorate the programmed structures with a rich vocabulary of phrases culled from the corpus of black music history. Anchored by the restless energy of drummer Ola Bothzén, the six-piece ensemble thus moved effortlessly from the 6/8 funk of "Baby" to the samba-soul of "Summer Sun" to the bulbous tech-bass of "Relaxin' At Club F****n," the last of which culminated in an explosive hard-bop finale. Throughout the session, vocalist Yukimi Nagano held the spotlight with an emotionality that's otherwise lacking in her work on Waltz. Her voice would crackle with hunger as her earthy alto poured forth with both ease and seductive restraint. A night like this would have most of us scrambling for the album, but having heard it after the fact, I'm more excited about lining up for Koop's return than I am about pressing "play."