Koop: Waltz for Koop (Quango/Palm)

Far from “waltzing,” this record swings, baby.

Sweden has been getting tons of attention over the past year for its spotlight-grabbing garage rockers like the Hives and Sahara Hotnights, but there are other genres of music producing some worthy artists in the country. Take Koop, for example, a jazz duo primarily comprised of Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson; Waltz for Koop is their first U.S. release. Far from “waltzing,” this record swings, baby.

A mixture of big-band, bossa nova, downtempo electronica, and house music, Waltz creates a smoky, late-night vibe that fosters introspection, although there are a few upbeat numbers. Several different vocalists contribute, which is confusing on first listen. Cecilia Stalin turns in a captivating, romantic performance on the lounge-vibe title track, as well as on the breezy “Baby.” Perhaps the best track, “Summer Sun,” features singer Yukimi Nagano—a previous review compared her to Astrid Gilberto on this track. Whether you agree or not, this tune is positively radiant in its ’50s-era zip, and if it doesn’t have you tapping your feet, check your pulse—you may have passed away. Nagano also sings on the moody, Miles Davis-influenced “Bright Nights,” which seems to embody a blue, alone-with-the-lights-turned-down feeling. The tunes performed by male vocalists are a tad less enchanting; I wish “Modal Mile” had been an instrumental, for example.

But at just under 35 minutes, Waltz for Koop is brisk, efficient, and musically engaging overall. Zingmark and Simonsson have an immense respect for traditional jazz, especially that of the ’50s and ’60s, where simplicity was the ideal, and improvisation was something to use very sparingly. With Koop, the duo generates a truly beguiling vibe that sounds refreshing either as foreground or background.

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