The Westwood Swing Band exemplifies the hard-driving sounds of big bands of the swing era. Its 16 instrumentalists and female vocalist perform from the repertoires of such noteworthy artists as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Glenn Miller, and Artie Shaw. The band’s members, many of whom are profess-ional or semi-professional musicians, are capable of offering up solo’s and ensemble play that reflect both virtuosity and feeling.
The roots of the band began in the mid-1980’s, when Mark Rogers assembled a few musicians interested in playing jazz together. Initially this was a seven-piece combo with ever-changing membership. In 1992 the band solidified into an ongoing enterprise under the "Westwood Swing Band" banner, as Mark, its director, had in the meantime moved to the town of Westwood, Mass. Four of today’s band’s members have played with the band for 20 years or more without interuption. The band still rehearses weekly in the town of Westwood.
The band is a popular attraction in town-hosted summer concert series, at dances focusing on swing / Lindy hop, galas, private functions, and fundraisers. Performances are usually within a 70-mile radius of Boston.
The band’s outstanding vocalist, Gail Riley, began singing professionally already as a teen-ager. A native of Norwood, MA, she rapidly achieved success as a vocal performer in the major Boston area clubs and hotels of the day. Gail was featured on The Lawrence Welk Show as a “Champagne Lady” in recording sessions on both the East and West Coasts. Out in front of the Westwood Swing Band since 1995, audiences enjoy the musicality and personality Gail brings to her renditions of 1940’s and 1950’s pop standards made famous by the “Great” Big Bands.