KOOP at Lee's Palace, March 4. Tickets: $12.50. Attendance: 450. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
As a rule, studio-based productions should never be taken into the fresh air. For every compelling Portishead performance there are a dozen Goldfrapp-style snoozers, in which a singer mewls over canned beats and stylish producers dramatically push"Play" on their samplers.
So the outlook was bleak for the live debut of Swedish jazz fusioneers Koop. The duo's stunning Waltz For Koop disc was a studio revelation, a live-sounding jazz record assembled almost entirely out of samples of other players' work. A DJ tour last year by Koop producers Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zingmark was pleasant enough. An attempt to reverse the creative process and actually make their samples come alive seemed like career suicide.
What made Koop's set a winner was that they held to their promise and actually played live. Samples were kept to a bare minimum -- horns on Summer Sun, strings on Waltz For Koop -- and the rest was played by a crack six-piece band on vibes, percussion, bass and keys. Vocalist Yukimi Nagano played the detached diva perfectly, and the transition from samples to live playing seemed effortless.
As impressive was the crowd that turned up for what was essentially a straight-up jazz show, complete with flashy drum solo. This was the youngest, hippest, most stylish crowd seen at a Toronto jazz event in ages, proof that the music can appeal well beyond the typical beard and pipe set if given the chance.
Maybe the Movement crew should be programming the Downtown Jazz Festival.