Alister is widely regarded as one of the most experienced, creative and original contemporary jazz pianist/composers in Australia.
With a performing and composing career spanning more than 25 years, his wide-ranging talents have led him to perform with and compose for some of the world’s most respected artists, in the areas of jazz music, film and theatre and rock music.
Performer/composer - Jazz music.
• In the late 1980’s, Alister was co-leader of an internationally acclaimed jazz ensemble called Clarion Fracture Zone (CFZ), which had a strong part to play in a resurgence of contemporary original composition in Australian jazz. CFZ was awarded an ARIA (Best Australian Jazz Album) in 1990 for their first album 'Blue Shift' and their reputation quickly grew. The ensemble toured extensively both nationally and internationally performing at major festivals in countries including: U.K, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Estonia, Russia, Canada, India, U.S.A.
In 1992 Downbeat Magazine (US) awarded 5 stars to CFZ’s second album 'Zones On Parade'.
• Alister is also a founding member of Wanderlust (ARIA Award winner 1993), a band that has enjoyed similar success both here and overseas.
• He is a long standing member of The Australian Art Orchestra, an eighteen piece jazz ‘orchestra’ led by Paul Grabowsky.
• In recent years Alister has devoted his energy to writing and performing with his trio, The Alister Spence Trio, with Lloyd Swanton (the Necks) and Toby Hall (Sandy Evans Trio). This ensemble has twice been nominated for an ARIA Award (2004, 2007) and received glowing reviews overseas. 'fit', the trio’s 2009 release was voted in the top 15 jazz/improv releases worldwide by the highly respected Wire Magazine (UK January 2010 Rewind Edition). The trio has toured to U.K, Canada and Japan, performing at clubs and festivals including the Tokyo Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival.
• Alister’s compositions are featured in all of the above ensembles. In 2009 The Australian Art Orchestra commissioned Alister to write a full length work (45 minutes) in 4 movements called 'Soak'. This work was premiered in 2010 at The Melbourne International Arts festival.
• As a musician Alister has performed with many luminary improvisers including: Barre Phillips (US), Jim O’Rourke (US), Satoko Fujii (JPN), Raymond MacDonald (UK), Karraikudi Mani (IND), Chris Abrahams (AU), Tony Buck (AU), Joe Williamson (SWE), Chris Cantillo (SWE), Mark Helias (USA).
• Raymond MacDonald and Alister have recently released a duo improvisation CD 'Stepping Between The Shadows' which has received a 4 star review in Jazzwise Magazine (UK).
Selected Press Quotes
'Spence has that priceless gift of always leaving you wanting more...He is never less than absorbing.' Jazzwise Magazine UK,
‘Ingenious themes prove fertile sources of improvisation. Spence is definitely a talent deserving wider recognition’
The Wire, UK
Utterly compelling’ Jazz Journal UK
’The cutting edge of modern Australia defined’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘It would be no exaggeration to say that Spence’s intellectual taste, and the fact that he doesn’t get caught up in ritual or tradition, highlights an outstanding personality, and that indeed he is fully rivaling the pianists who have brought about the present boom in piano trio music’. Swing Journal, Japan
‘Beautiful. Spence’s piano vocabulary is very distinctive, his playing very fine, with rhythmic excitement and melodic beauty entwined’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘This is the sound of the hammer striking the nail right on the head, sweetly, every time’ Australian Financial Review ‘The sheer power, energy and elan of his playing was breathtaking.’
Jazzwise Magazine UK
‘This is jazz at its most violently inventive and sublimely addictive. Give us more.’ Drum Media, Sydney
‘His piano glistened with personality, vitality and invention’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘Spence brings to the piano the accomplishment of a mature and rounded artist who has mastered the art of building a line, so that his every improvisation becomes a story within a story.’
Jazzwise Magazine UK