Raymond MacDonald

PRESS RELEASE: 16 April 2012



Alister Spence (Australia): piano/prepared piano

Raymond MacDonald (Scotland): soprano/alto saxophones

Rufus Records: RF095


Stepping Between The Shadows is a collaborative journey through music towards a distinct and unique collective sound.


This CD brings together two of the finest, most distinctive improvisers in their respective countries, in a wonderfully captivating and unified set of music. At times beautiful, dark, lyrical, textured and surprising, this co-improvisation journey was recorded live in concert at The Concert Hall, Glasgow University 17 February 2011 as part of a UK/Europe tour.


The Spence/MacDonald duo stems from a friendship and mutual admiration that has developed over the last 10 years.

In 2006 The Alister Spence Trio took part in a workshop with the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra in Glasgow. Raymond is a founding member of the GIO. Described as the ‘Premier league of the European improvisation scene.’ (Sudeutsche Zeitung) and as ‘One of the best large improvising ensembles in the world’ (BBC Radio 3, Jazz on 3).

In 2008 Raymond invited Alister and his trio to perform in Tokyo with the ‘International Big Band’ which included Satoko Fujii, Jim O’Rourke and many Japanese free improvising luminaries. A CD of this performance, Buddy was released in 2010 on the Textile label. “Music this articulate is rare in any style of music (Jazz Wise) “An unqualified Success” (The Wire)

In 2009 and 2011 Alister and Raymond toured together in the UK with Joe Williamson (double bass), and Tom Bancroft and Christopher Cantillo (drums). ‘Well-defined direction from the get-go’ Glasgow Herald and in 2011 the Spence/MacDonald duo was formed.


Raymond MacDonald is no stranger to European audiences, working regularly with many of the current pioneers in avant-garde music including pianist Marilyn Crispell, Fred Frith, drummer Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer, David Byrne, Damo Suzuki, trumpeter Axel Dorner, George Lewis, Evan Parker, Keith Tippett, Barry Guy, London Improvisers Orchestra and many others.


“one of the most compelling and arresting listens I have had in some time and does much to further establish MacDonald as a leading voice in modern improvisational music” (WNUR Chicago, pick of the week).


“Able to individuate the exact points in which bedlam and presence of mind fuse, allowing the music to reach levels of unexpected intensity enriched by beautifully resonant halos and deliberate melodic reflection” (Touching Extremes)


Alister, has toured internationally many times over the last 20 years with bands such as Clarion Fracture Zone, Wanderlust, The Australian Art Orchestra and The Alister Spence Trio, performing at many premier festivals and clubs including: The London Jazz Festival, The Vilnius Jazz Festival, The North Sea Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Crawley Festival, Leverkusener Jazztage, Tokyo Jazz Festival, Jazz Yatra (India), Vancouver Jazz Festival, International Festival de jazz de Montreal, The Knitting Factory (US) etc.

‘The cutting edge of modern Australia defined’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘Ingenious themes…Spence is certainly a talent deserving wider recognition.’ The Wire, UK

‘Spence has that priceless gift of always leaving you wanting more.’ Jazzwise Magazine,

between the shadows

Stepping Between the Shadows