Newburgh Jazz Series Kicks Off Ninth Season

By Jennifer L. Warren

MONTGOMERY – “It’s all about bringing people together and sharing the music and love,” Aquanetta “Ferry Godmother” Wright told an impressive crowd Wednesday night at the Newburgh Jazz Series 2015 opening show. “It’s a great thing.”

That communal love affair with outdoor, live music was in full swing on the late June summer evening. All threats of a pending rain shower were quickly eclipsed, as the sky opened up with bright sunshine, and the picturesque grounds of the Orange County Arboretum began to fill up with excited, dedicated music lovers. For the ninth season, they were being treated to top-level, local jazz talent; however this year kicked off with a special twist. The group Shaktipat opened up the performance; it was their first appearance at the Newburgh Jazz Series.

“Aquanetta contacted me because she wanted to do something to complement the opening performance of the African drumming/dance group,” said Matthew Cantello, one of three members of Shaktipat. “Our music is a mix of jazz and world, Modern Fusion of Kirtan Jazz and World Music.” He added. “Aquanetta was looking for something newer, different, less known to the general public for the exposure.”

That experimental approach to Wednesday’s first 2015 concert of the Series paid off, as Shaktipat was warmly received, even playing an encore song. The Ferry Godmother further explained the rationale behind that added twist to the night’s genre selection.

“Although this is a jazz series, it’s composed of many different things,” pointed out Wright. “It’s why I brought in some world music, showing we are all one.”

Another group, Chiku Awali African Drumming and Dancing, followed up Shaktipat’s performance. With the Ferry Godmother Jazz Series for all nine years of its tenure, the lively, interactive group, composed of members of all ages, came with a hefty load of energy. Reaching down deep with passionate flair, while inviting guests up to the front stage area to dance, group members explained the history and meaning behind both their drumming and dancing moves, each rooted in awakening their ancestors in a modern day backdrop.

Both new and old audience members from the “Ferry Family” were on hand, experiencing the first of nine Wednesday jazz concerts through the end of August. Those with different musical tastes, fear not. Tuesdays are also set aside for live, outdoor, upscale music talent. Pop Rock and Doowop takes the Arboretum stage on these nights. Regardless of the genre, both venues run from 6:30-8:30. And one thing is for sure if you plan on making the trip to Thomas Bull Memorial Parks’ Arboretum: you will have an unforgettable, special summer, music experience.

The Woody family, former residents of Newburgh, originally saw the Newburgh Jazz Festival at its previous locale, the Newburgh Waterfront. Since the site was recently changed a couple of years ago to Montgomery’s Park, the now Woody Walden residents could not be happier. Three generations, grandmother, mother and daughter were on hand at Wednesday’s show.

“I’m really happy it’s now closer to home, and it’s nice to experience it in a different setting, while exposing my daughter to all types of music and be outdoors rather than playing video games,” said Sade Woody. “It’s very peaceful here, and it’s good to support something positive like this kind of live music while breaking up the monotony of the week.”

Next up for the Newburgh Jazz Series is tonight’s show, ESP with Kristen, featuring yesterday’s bebop with modern, traditional jazz roots and improvisation. If you have not had the chance yet, what are you waiting for? Grab a lawn chair and picnic basket, and come out and enjoy some top outdoor, live, free music this summer.

To learn more, log on to: or call (225) DO-Magic.


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