The Coastal Access Band
Many people think that I recently formed this group, but some of us have been playing together for the past 17 years. Every member is a sideman in another group and in between tours we get together and play. We started off playing just jazz cover the Studio Cafe. Later we started doing more original compositions and finally had enough songs for a CD. We also began playing a lot of gigs in Florida. It seemed that we were traveling back and forth between the two coasts – we were becoming a bi-coastal band. As you drive up and down the coast in Southern California you will see signs that say “Coastal Access” and my wife, Chaunte, suggested that name for the band.
Melvin Davis, Dave Hooper, Allen Hinds, and Dave Kochanski, make up the core of Coastal Access, and sometimes other talented musicians join us. My happiest memories are of being on and off stage with these guys. Whether we are performing together or searching for an Indian restaurant in the middle of Florida at two o’clock in the morning, there is always a strong connection and comradery through humor and music which enriches all of our lives. I look forward to many more journeys both musical and geographical with these friends that have all become part of my family.
Allen has the ability to add so much character, color, and dimension to any tune he plays. His sense of time is impeccable, and he always knows what to play and just when to play it. He is also one of the most dynamic soloists I’ve ever heard. Whether we are playing the blues, a soaring ballad or acid jazz, he can raise the intensity of the song, and the band to the highest level. This is why so many artists such as Hiroshima, Bobby Caldwell, Dan Siegel, Roberta Flack, The Crusaders, and Randy Crawford have used Allen on their tours. Allen is also a talented composer. You can hear two of his compositions on some of my past albums – “Best Of Times” on Another Door Opens and “The Good Life” on Simple Truth. When Allen is not touring or recording you can most likely find him on the tennis courts. When we are going over the details of an upcoming gig, most guys ask about flights, transportation, etc., Allen asks if there are tennis courts nearby. The man’s addicted!
By the time I finally got to play with ‘Hoop’ I had already heard so much about him from many other musicians. Everyone would say, ‘You haven’t played with Hoop yet? Aah, man you’re gonna love his feel.’ They were right. From the first few bars of playing together it felt like I was home. He is the kind of musician who can hear a song once and know exactly what to do to make it feel good. He has done many studio recordings for TV & film and has toured with Dave Koz, Sheryl Crow, James Ingram, and The Rippingtons. Dave is also a very talented web designer. Whether he’s on the plane, bus or in the car, he is always working on the computer.
Simply one of the world’s most gifted musicians. He can play intricate jazz lines, melodies that will make you cry, and funk like you’ve never heard before! He never fails to take a song to the next level and beyond. Mel is also a gifted singer and composer and has just completed his fourth solo CD entitled Homeland. He has spent many years on the road with Chaka Khan, Prince, Lee Ritenour, Jonathan Butler, and Larry Carlton to name just a few. For the past fifteen years Melvin and I have played together, and he has always played sitting down. I recently saw him with Lee Ritenour and Mel was not only standing, he was dancing! Who knew he was such a good dancer? The talent never stops…
I first met Dave after a Rippingtons concert in the parking lot of a small club in Wisconsin called Shank Hall. The rain was pouring down, and I was making my way to the tour bus where a skinny, soaked kid was waiting. This nervous guy hands me a cassette tape and asks if I could check it out. I could not believe how good the music was so we kept in touch for over a year and then Dave loaded up his van and moved to Southern California. He is truly one of the most talented players and composers around and has become one of the top calls in L.A. Dave has toured with Norman Brown, Everette Harp, Marc Antoine, Brenda Russell and The Rippingtons. He is also a highly skilled Quake III player. Maybe you’ll frag him online sometime, although it’s highly doubtful! Behind that innocent face is a combat-hungry maniac!
Mark Ellis Stephens
I first met Mark when we were both in college. Even back then he showed amazing facility along with great musical sensitivity. He has been the first call keyboardist for Chaka Khan, Alanis Morissette, Diana Ross, James Ingrahm, George Duke and most recently with Josh Groban. Mark brings a warmth and depth to all the music he performs.