AYA SMOOTH JAZZ BAND @ THE CROSSROADS

(SUMMERTIME MEMORY...)


How to create a good day in the midst of a chaotic society.

Simply combine a hot summer day; a historic park with a nineteenth century farmhouse; a smooth jazz band with a soulful vocalist; and an appreciative, eager audience who knows even though picnic benches are available, its customary to bring your very own concert park chair. You know some of those live music aficionados keep the chair in the trunk of the car all summer, just in case an outdoor concert pops-off, and they were unaware until the last minute.

Live Music! Anywhere!


It’s the middle of August, on a Sunday afternoon with temperatures hovering around eighty-five degrees but it felt a few degrees warmer because the slight breeze was not enough. You definitely needed your sunglasses, a bottle of water, and perhaps your favorite summer sun hat. Or you could have just taken a seat, a little to the side, but in the shade on a picnic bench. In a nutshell, it was the perfect summer day for live music outdoors, in open space, and the vibe was free. It was the type of experience where the summer heat was part of the production.


The scenic grounds of Dr. James Still Historic Office Site and Education Center which is located Medford, NJ was the setting. The historic site honors and preserves the legacy of Dr. James Still. It is the New Jersey State Park Service’s first African American Historic Site. Dr. Still was born in 1812 to parents who had formerly been enslaved. Dr. Still became a doctor, an herbalist, in the 1800’s, let me say that a little louder, a black doctor in the 1800’s in NJ. He was known as “The Black Doctor of the Pines.” This location is rich in history and offers knowledge that helps the culture. It is an awesome site and worth the visit.


On this summer day, this beautiful site was a perfect setting for AYA Jazz band to entertain us with the magic of their sweet music. AYA Smooth Jazz band is indeed a smooth band, with a uniquely identifiable sound and classy soulful vibe. This Jazz and R&B group covers some of our favorites but perform their own original music as well. Instrumentally, the band is amazing. AYA consists of band leader Keith Worthington on guitar and vocals, Ward Durham on bass guitar, Jose Claudio on percussion, Alvin Banks on keyboards, and Trev Rivers on drums. Additionally, the group features an amazing vocalist, Kym Still, that after hearing, you won’t soon forget. Keith, Ward and Kym have written original songs that the band performs.

The instrumentals are crazy good. Kym’s voice is her own and incomparable. It is hard to say who she reminds you of. She just reminds you of Kym Still, herself. Each member of the band has perfected their instruments and their sound is like time traveling to when music was authentic and real. The music speaks to the soul. The songs are about love, feelings, and the joy of music. AYA performs live at major outdoor festivals, as well as at music venues previously having played as the house band for one of South Jersey’s most popular venues. AYA has a robust and dedicated following that shows up everywhere they perform.

Now the audience that day was a potpourri of people who love live music, people who understand the therapy of live music (particularly outdoors in the summertime), and people who reminisce on the grove. One member of the crowd was overheard saying that that day reminded her of the sixties. I cannot disagree with the point of view, late 60’s or 70’s would be about right. Regardless of the decade that is one’s timeframe of reference; the experience of a shared live music event on a hot summer day still fosters a connection, a togetherness among the people, even if only for one summer Sunday afternoon on historic grounds.

Live music. Anywhere.

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Dr. James Still Historic Office and Education Center (drjamesstillcenter.org)


Sandra K Coleman a CPA, a live music fanatic, founder of Black Swan Blues and a novice blogger.

(Article initially written in August 2021)


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#MAXWELL

Last weekend my beautiful daughter and I got all dressed up and went to see Maxwell. While we don’t agree on some things, Maxwell is not one of those things. He was all one could hope for. I just wished that I had a lil bit mo’ of him.


Even inside a sizeable commercial event center like at the Hard Rock Café Arena, Maxwell has such a sexy, smooth, and intimate vibe. Except for when he yelled “hey you up there in the back, at the top.” Those in the back at the top were on their feet, groovin. But that’s Maxwell! Not every artist can bring the intimacy of a small joint to a big stage.


Small live music venues are cozy and intimate. The vibe is familiar, like being with family, or that special someone. The band and the crowd share the same space; engage in personal conversation where the artists speak in music language. You know like sign language, but with music. It sounds real. It feels good. It’s REAL GOOD.


I just wish that I had lil bit mo’ of it.


Don’t you?


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6 SELFISH REASONS WHY YOUNG-AT-HEARTS (OR GROWN-COOL-ASS PEOPLE, IF YOU PREFER) SHOULD SUPPORT LOCAL MUSICIANS.


  1. Music makes us active. We are going to move, tap a toe, clap a hand; some might even ♫♪♫ Do a little dance, make a little love, get down to night, baby. ♫ ♪♬♬ (KC and the Sunshine Band.)

  2. Music can change a mindset. You can go from a headspace of not wanting to be bothered or crabbiness to happy feelings. ♬♫♪ These happy feelings, I’ll spread them all over the world. ♬♫♪ (Frankie Beverly and Maze.)

  3. Music stimulates memory. Attending a live music event is to the brain what going to the gym is to the body. So, I’ve been told; and I believe it’s true. Music can bring about a good memory, a special moment from a time gone by. ♫♪♬ Memories, Sweet, Sweet Memories of love we shared…♬♪♫. (The Temptations.) OK, some memories are sad…lol…but they are still special.

  4. Music is relaxing. The fun of a good time listening to music helps the body relax. It provides the relaxation that can induce a good night’s sleep. How about “Breezin”, a Bobby Womack composed song…really, Bobby Womack? Breezin was made popular by George Benson. Instrumental. Easy listening.

  5. ♫♪♬ It’s so much better, baby, the second time around. ♬♪♫ Remember when you enjoyed music and other social events. You were young; and fun was a priority. But then adulthood forced itself upon you. Well, now that you have been there and done that; fun is once again an option. Again, I’ve been told, and I believe it’s true; that like love, “going out”, is so much better the second time around. ♬♪♫ I know you have come a long way, Baby. But you don’t need (to stay at home) …. ♫♪♬ (Shalamar)

  6. Lastly, and quite importantly, it’s an inexpensive cure to many ailments. Many studies provide support to the roles both music and social interactions play in physical and mental health as we age. ♫♪♬Here is why. Because (you’re) happy. Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. Because (you’re) happy and that’s what you want to do…Clap along if you know what happiness is to you. ♬♪♫ (Pharrell)

These are my top 6 reasons. You probably have at least 50 more. Let’s pursue an active fun life while enjoying and attending music events, performed by local artists in our very own community. 

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