Jo Barker, president of the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum, has good news this 18th season. For the first time, PAAL has more than 700 subscribers, and if that isn't cause enough for celebrating, writer-broadcaster John Tegler again played host for the season opener, attracting a number of his radio fans to the concert.
Well known as a jazz authority -- he has a show on WEAA-FM 88.9 -- Tegler has a reputation for showcasing accomplished musicians in his re-creations of musical legends.
His recent season opener honored Duke Ellington, whose centennial is being celebrated this year. Tegler has spent a lifetime studying Ellington and his music He said he also has spent time with the Ellington orchestra and "with the Duke himself."
Ellington's sound drew a large audience, varied in age and ethnicity.
PAAL distributes tickets to area schools, but students rarely attend the concerts. However, several showed up for Saturday's performance.
From the first number, "East St. Louis Toodle-O," through a 1928 classic called "Mood Indigo," I was impressed with the authentic Ellington sound. The 13-member band, led by saxophonist Scott Silbert and Tegler's son, drummer Brooks Tegler, are remarkable musicians, adept at creating a true Ellington sound.
If John Tegler can be faulted for anything, it might be the length of his commentary, though it is fascinating. The whole program could be trimmed a bit.
Tegler gives the audience more than its money's worth. Audience members stayed for all 29 numbers, 30 counting the "A Train" encore, and were on their feet applauding wildly.
The new season is off to a great start, with six concerts remaining in the series. The next concert is scheduled for Nov. 5, when the Naval Academy Band will appear at Lindale-Brooklyn Park Middle School (formerly Andover) on Andover Road in Linthicum.
On Nov. 21, Russian pianist Vladimir Svoysky will play selections from the Romantic period. The St. Petersburg native has performed at Carnegie Hall and with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Svoysky will perform at 3 p.m. at North County High School, where all remaining concerts will be held.
At 3 p.m. Dec. 12, the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, a 60-voice choir directed by Glenette Schumacher, will make its first appearance at PAAL.
On Jan. 16, the Singing Boys of Pennsylvania, ages 10 to 14, will be heard in a program of traditional favorites. A bonus concert featuring the Navy Band will be held at 3 p.m. March 18.
The season ends May 6 with a performance by the percussive dance group Footworks.
Series subscriptions can be purchased by calling PAAL President Jo Barker at 410-859-3308.