This recording marks the joyous meeting of four creative, dedicated musicians currently residing in the Southeastern United States. Recorded in Memphis, Tennessee in February 2007, the record is a true musical collective highlighting compositions and inspired, imaginative playing by all. Southern Excursion features Michael Jefry Stevens, Don Aliquo, Tom Giampietro and Jonathan Wires. Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens recently moved to Memphis after residing in New York City for over twenty years. His many recordings, tours and concerts with the likes with Mark Feldman, Dave Douglas, Gerry Hemingway, Dave Liebman, Miles Griffith and many others feature his enigmatic playing and vital compositions. Saxophonist Don Aliquo moved to the Nashville area in 2000 from his native Pittsburgh. He is extremely active as a soloist and educator, has recorded four solo cds and has performed or recorded with Rufus Reid, Gary Burton, Roger Humphries, Clay Jenkins and Marvin Stamm. Don is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. Tom Giampietro is one of the most creative and sought-after drummers in the region, and his creative approach is featured in performances and recordings with artists like Jeff Coffin, Rod McGaha, Scott Robinson, Victor Wooten, Beegie Adair, Ben Monder, The Chris Merz X-tet, Ricky Woodard and Peter Erskine. Currently residing in Oxford, Missisippi, bassist Jonathan Wires is a relative newcomer whose stellar compositions and melodic solos point out a young artist with an extremely bright musical future. Hopefully you will enjoy this Southern Excursion. Liner Notes The set begins with a haunting melody, Ashes, written by the late, extraordinary jazz pianist Andrew Hill. I was introduced to the piece by my friend and innovative alto saxophonist Greg Osby, and it features a shimmering solo by Michael Jefry Stevens and a beautifully melodic bass solo by Jonathan Wires. Giampietro's playing on the track is subtle yet muscular adding the perfect balance to the solos. Next, Out In The World, is an alluring, ¾ metered composition written by Jonathan Wires that starts introspectively but rapidly builds in intensity. The melody of this piece is one that never fails to stay with me after hearing and in many ways this piece is my personal highlight of the recording. The Chant was something I wrote many years ago but never found the right context to record it. This group is that context! These guys can shift gears and play free with knowledge of the tradition that I personally love and respect. The single take was divided on this recording into Chant I &Chant II because of it's length and the two distinct moods created in the performance. A Long and Lonely Nights Work was composed by Tom Giampietro and, as the title suggests, is a moody, thoughtful piece. Tom's interesting compositions prove he is another in a long line of jazz drummers who are equally at home expressing themselves with the pen. Longing is a piece I composed while a student at Lake Placid Institute in 1999, and I have been told suggests Billy Strayhorn. It is great to hear Michael's stellar solo on the tune! Four Wheeler is a composition by Michael Jefry Stevens and is dedicated to the great jazz artist, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. The first solo by Jonathan again display's his melodicism and harmonic knowledge and the interplay between he and Michael is outstanding. Michael strolls to great effect on the changes and the vamps in the tune give Tom & I ample room to stretch. Jonathan Wires again proves he's a gifted composer with the funky December. The quirky melody features soprano saxophone and piano and like Jonathan's previous compositions, produces a mood and energy that is great fun to play. The set wraps up with Michael's bluesy Spiritual, which showcases the depth of feeling and soul that is at the heart of everything he plays and writes! Jonathan also captivates the listener with his solo on the piece. We hope you enjoy our music as we take you on this "Southern Excursion".