NOT EVERYTHING BUT ENOUGH
(Alister Spence Music)
There are two types of artist: those who spend entire careers replicating an approach, and those who keep reaching for the new. Across its two-decade career the Alister Spence Trio has continued to evolve from a relatively conventional piano/bass/drums jazz band into a unit prepared to brave the woolly frontier where composition and improvisation collide in fresh ways. Concurrently Spence’s use of electronics has become ever more sophisticated, drummer Toby Hall’s glockenspiel playing has become a trademark and bassist Lloyd Swanton’s playing has become leaner, yet with an intensified voodoo effect.
So this double album documents the latest phase of the trio’s journey rather than marking a destination. Spence’s extended compositions are diverse and often quite dark, and can spear off in unforeseen directions. These cohabit with group improvisations and solo piano pieces, and the band has become so adept at reating almost cinematic mood pieces that a couple of the more rhythmic compositions sound almost wooden by comparison, with In a Good World in particular crying out for a lighter, more aerated approach. Nonetheless this is high-wire music-making.