Alister is recognised as one of the most creative and original contemporary pianist / composers in Australia. His wide-ranging talents have led to performances with many musicians across the contemporary music spectrum including Ed Kuepper and The Laughing Clowns, Paul Capsis and The Australian Art Orchestra.
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 (Mike Nock Trio) drums and glockenspiel. This celebrated group has recorded 4 CDs of Alister's original music: Three is a Circle in 2000 (released in Japan in January 2003, on the Earth Spirit Label), Flux in 2003, Mercury in 2006 and fit in 2009, all on Rufus Records, distributed in Australia by Universal Music.
Fit was voted in the top 15 jazz / improvisation releases worldwide for 2009 by The Wire, UK. Mercury was nominated for Best Jazz Album 2007 at the ARIA (Australian recording Industry) Awards and Flux also was nominated for an ARIA in 2004.
The trio has toured internationally in the UK and Canada (2006) and in Japan (2008) including performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Tokyo Jazz Festival and with musicians such as Satoko Fujii, Jim O’Rourke, Michiyo Yagi and Kenichi Matsumoto. In 2009 and 2011, Alister toured in Europe and the UK, performing at the Vilnius Jazz Festival and club dates with (amongst others) Raymond MacDonald (Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra), Joseph Williamson (Tobias Delius Quartet) and Tony Buck (the Necks).
In June 2009, Brian Eno invited the Trio to support Jon Hassell in the Luminous Festival at the Sydney Opera House.
As well, Alister co-leads the internationally acclaimed group Clarion Fracture Zone and is a founding member of Wanderlust and a longstanding member The Australian Art Orchestra (AAO).
Alister’s playing features on more than 30 CDs, many of which have won or been nominated for an ARIA Award. Over the years he has played with many fine musicians including Bernie McGann, Sandy Evans, Chris Abrahams, Dale Barlow, Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach, Tony Buck, Phillip Slater, Ed Kuepper, Paul Capsis, Mark Helias (US), Andy Sheppard (UK), Satoko Fujii (Japan), Raymond MacDonald (Scotland) and Jim O’Rourke.
Over the past 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 talent as a writer is well recognised with several compositions featuring on Bernie McGann’s 2001 ARIA winning CD Bundeena. He has also been commissioned to write for Wanderlust, The Australian Art Orchestra, and Ten Part Invention with his work featured on Passion (ABC Classics) by the Australian Art Orchestra and all of Wanderlust’s and Clarion Fracture Zones CDs.
Alister also composes music for film and theatre. He has collaborated with film director Ivan Sen. Together they wrote and recorded the soundtrack to Ivan’s first feature film, Beneath Clouds, which was first screened in June 2002. The score for ‘Beneath Clouds’ was nominated for the Best Score at The Film Critics Awards, and the Australian Film Industry Awards 2002. He has also worked with acclaimed directors Tom Zubrycki, Allan Collins and Tom Murray. Theatre credits include the sound design for Angela’s Kitchen, featuring Paul Capsis directed by Julian Meyrick (2010) and Winterreise, A Winter’s Journey, directed by Matthew Lutton (2011).
Alister lectures at University of New South Wales in Jazz Performance and Composition.