Alister is recognized as one of Australia’s most original, distinctive contemporary jazz 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 six CDs (Rufus Records and Alister Spence Music [ASM]) and has a growing international reputation.
Their most recent CD, Not Everything But Enough (ASM005, 2017) was listed in Top 10 Jazz Releases 2017, Music Magazine Japan and "Honorary Mention Best of 2017" in New York City Jazz Record. Alister Spence Trio: Live (ASM004, 2015) was recorded live at the Sound Lounge, Sydney in 2015 and received a 4 star review in Jazzwise Magazine. It was nominated for Australian Jazz Bell Awards 2016 and Art Music Award Excellence in Jazz 2016. Far Flung (Rufus Records 2012) also 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. Spence/Williamson/Cantillo released their debut CD, Begin (Alister Spence Music ASM003) in 2015. It was described as "Brilliant musicianship, masterful playing and imaginative improvisation" by Eyal Hareuveni, Salt Peanuts.
Alister also performs with improvising groups Sensaround - Alister Spence/keyboards, Raymond MacDonald (Scotland)/saxophone and Shoeb Ahmed/samples releasing two CDs Isotropes (2014 HelloOsquare Recordings) and Travelogue (2016 HellOSquare Recordings).; and ch/an/ce - Andrew Fedorich/saxophone, Evan Dorian/drums, Alister Spence/piano.
Since 2008, Alister has collaborated with acclaimed, Japanese pianist/composer Satoko Fujii performing a double bill at Tokyo International Jazz Festival - Alister Spence Trio and Satoko's ensemble Mah Doh Quartet. In 2011, they performed as a duo in Sydney at the Eugene Goosens Hall ABC and in 2015 performed as part of an improvisation concert at Kuhlspot Berlin wiht Magda Mayas, Natsuki Tamura and Andrea Parkins. In 2016, Alister toured in Japan with Sensaround and the Satoko Fujii Orchestra and performed several duo piano concerts with Fujii. He returned to Japan in 2017 to perform with Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura and the Satoko Fujii Orchestras.