Alister is recognized as one of Australia’s most original, distinctive pianists/composers. 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 contemporary music, improvisation, film and theatre.
In recent years he has devoted his energy to writing and performing with his trio, The Alister Spence Trio with Lloyd Swanton (the Necks) on double bass and Toby Hall (formerly with pianist, Mike Nock) drums and glockenspiel. This celebrated group has recorded five CDs (Rufus Records) and has a growing international reputation.
Their most recent CD, Far Flung (Rufus Records 2012) received a 4 star review in Jazz Journal (June 2013) and was listed in Critics Poll 2013 (January 2014). It was also listed in The WIRE 2013 Rewind – Critics’ reflections by Andy Hamilton as Album of the year. fit (Rufus Records 2009) was voted in the top 15 jazz/improv releases worldwide for 2009 by The Wire, UK. Both Mercury (Rufus Records 2006) and Flux (Rufus Records 2003) received ARIA nominations (Australian Record Industry Awards) for 2004, 2007. The trio toured in U.K and Canada in 2006 and Japan in 2008.
Since performing at The Vilnius Jazz Festival 2009, with bassist, Joseph Williamson (Tobias Delius Quartet, Alex Ward) and drummer, Chris Cantillo (Nils Berg Cinemascope, Lena Nyberg), Alister has returned to Europe and the UK on a regular basis to tour with this lineup. Also performing as a Quartet with saxophonist Raymond MacDonald (Marilyn Crispell, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra).
Festival performances for the Trio include: Vilnius Jazz Festival 2009, Luminous Festival, Sydney Opera House curated by Brian Eno 2009, Tokyo Jazz Festival 2008, International Festival de Jazz de Montreal and Vancouver Jazz Festival 2006.
Alister is a founding member of Wanderlust and a long-standing member of The Australian Art Orchestra (AAO). Alister was also co-leader/composer with the internationally acclaimed group Clarion Fracture Zone for 15 years from 1990 – 2005.
His playing is featured on more than 30 CDs, many of which have either won or been nominated for Australian Record Industry (ARIA) Awards.
Over the years he has played with many of the finest musicians in Australia including Bernie McGann, Sandy Evans, Chris Abrahams, Don Burrows, Dale Barlow, Peter O’Mara, Tony Buck, Phillip Slater, Paul Capsis, Archie Roach and Ed Kuepper (The Laughing Clowns).
Alister has also performed with Satoko Fujii (Japan), Michiyo Yagi (Japan), Barre Phillips (US), Myra Melford (US), Mark Helias (US), Andy Sheppard (UK), Joe Williamson (SWE), Jim O’Rourke (Japan), Raymond MacDonald (Glasgow), Mark Helias (US), Karraikudi Mani (IND).
Over the last 20 years, Alister has toured extensively in Europe, Asia and Canada with The Alister Spence Trio, Clarion Fracture Zone, Wanderlust and AAO, and has performed radio broadcasts for ABC (Australia), BBC (UK), and WDR (Germany).
His talents as a composer are well known in Australia. As well as his own trio and Clarion Fracture Zone, Alister composes for Wanderlust and has been commissioned several times to write for The Australian Art Orchestra and Ten Part Invention.