The Swing Set with Alex Cook –
Swinging the Songbook, 60’s-Style
America is in love with the 1960s all over again. From hit television shows to fashion, the swinging days of The Rat Pack are back, and as big as ever.
From its home base of Washington, D.C., The Swing Set with Alex Cook has recaptured the sexy sound of the ‘60s. The nine-piece jazz big band’s music is, in a word, cool – like a nightclub show at the Sands with Frank and Dean, a ‘66 Mustang convertible, a sudden breeze on a hot city night, or a vodka martini at your own private table.
“Casino Music,” the first collection of songs from The Swing Set with Alex Cook, is music the way it was meant to be played—and heard. Tight horns, tinkling ivories, slapping bass, smooth guitar, groovy drums and vocals with that timeless Vegas attitude make the 10-song set an authentic and satisfying listen. Recorded at Airshow Mastering in Takoma Park, MD, and at Actiondale Sudios in Annandale, VA, the album includes material produced by Grammy winner Charlie Pilzer.
And “Casino Music” doesn’t just deliver American songbook classics like “That Old Black Magic,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” The album also brings a ‘60s sensibility to more modern songs like Duran Duran’s “Rio,” George Michael’s “Faith,” “Bad Things” (the True Blood theme song) by Jace Everett, and even a Bacharach-inspired reimagining of the 1990 ballad “More than Words” by Extreme. Talk about timeless.
The Swing Set with Alex Cook is the inspiration of actor and singer Alex Zavistovich, a musician-turned-actor-turned-musician who has entertained and performed in films, TV and onstage. The concept was brought to life as a collaboration with two of Washington, DC’s fastest rising and most respected jazz musicians: Music Director Brad Linde and Arranger Amy Bormet, of the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. Together, they provide the creative backbone for The Swing Set with Alex Cook’s authentic 1960s sound.
The band of musicians assembled by Linde gave arranger Bormet the opportunity for some adventurous and playful writing. Says Bormet, a jazz pianist and graduate of the prestigious Howard University music program, “One of my favorites from the first recording is George Michael's "Faith" as a Second Line (New Orleans Style) groove. The improvisation from (trumpet player) Brad Clements and (trombone player) Jen Krupa was stylistically dead on, transforming the song into a truly convincing arrangement.”
Combining swinging standards with more current pop songs was an important part of making “Casino Music” work as a record.
“This isn’t an ironic wink or a hipster nod to the music of those days; we’re strictly legit,” says Zavistovich, who sings under his Screen Actors Guild name of Cook. “We approach our song selection the same way performers did back then – we find the swing feel in the classics as well as pop music. We haven’t arranged any show tunes yet, but that’s on the horizon, too."
It’s all in the game for the founders of The Swing Set with Alex Cook, who note that the band name itself is an indication of their approach to the music.
“This isn’t a band backing up a vocalist; it’s a band with a singer,” says Zavistovich. “The Swing Set captures the energy of a classic nightclub band, while staying fresh with more modern songs that feel right too. The interplay among the musicians, and the freewheeling style on stage, are all part of what made music in the 1960s so much fun. It wouldn’t make sense to do it any other way.”
Break out your tux or your little black dress. There’s a new Swing Set on the playground, and you’re in for one cool, cool ride.