Two years ago now-long-time collaborators, Alister Spence and Raymond MacDonald invited guitarist/sampling magician/producer and HellosQuare Records president, Shoeb Ahmad to join on the ‘Stepping Between the Shadows’ launch tour.

After playing gigs together it was pretty clear that this trio had to continue making music together…and a new project, Sensaround, was born!

While still on tour the three recorded at Shoeb’s Brick Lane Studios in Canberra to record their first album, Isotropes, released in mid 2014.

Sensaround explores their shared love of, sound, free improvisation, electronic music and indie pop with acoustic melodies wrapped up in wind textures, Rhodes tones and sonic detritus.


★★★★ 4/5 stars

the music surrounds you. Sounds of seeming substance loom out of a swirling mist of smaller sounds, but then dissolve, so all is ephemeral and ghostly, just like life.
John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald

Rare musical insight and a magical release.

Isotropes is a rich and vibrant album, capturing the three musicians deeply engaged in sonic conversation. It’s beautifully sculpted and presented.
Cyclic Defrost


Alister Spence (Sydney): Fender Rhodes, Pedals
Raymond McDonald (Glasgow): Alto + Soprano Saxophone
Shoeb Ahmad (Canberra): Boss SP-202 + SP-303, Pedals

Two great improvising pianists, both with international careers in improvised / experimental / new music. 

The first time I saw Alister play it changed the way i heard music forever - he (and Sandy Evans) opened a window into jazz improvisation which i have been trying to climb all the way through for ten years.

Austin is cut from the same stuff.  endlessly exploring new musical ideas, both intellectual and aesthetic, at 25 years old he has studied on three continents and composed and recorded in half a dozen forms.

i expect this night to be mesmerising and demanding and beautiful.

The musical lives of pianist Alister Spence and reedsman Paul Cutlan regularly cross in groups like the Australian Art Orchestra and Steve Morley's Squall. They have recorded together as a duo for the ABC and performed in Canberra and Sydney. Tonight they will combine their love of tradition with natural curiosity and playfulness as they explore a widely varying repertoire of originals and standards.

In the second set they welcome the wonderful vocalist Susan Gai Dowling for renditions of rare and beautiful songs.

16 solo pianists over four weeks.  This series was largely responsible for our decision to host concerts more often.

eight oclock sharp jazz postcard

The inaugural Eight Oclock Sharp featured a grand piano, and a selection of Sydney's greatest improvising pianists.

1st may

Bill Risby trio

Our first official night. Bill was the perfect choice. The music was very beautiful. Steve Elphick recorded the concert and Bill released it as an album, which you can buy on his website.

8th may

Alistair Spence

Alistair is a very musical pianist, and a very unique and dedicated composer. He invited the Australian Jazz Musician of the Year award winning saxophonist Sandy Evans to join him for a wonderful performance of some of Alistair's most beautiful compositions.

12th may

Barney Wakeford

Barney is the dark horse of the Sydney jazz scene. His compositions are moody and evocative. This concert was filled with all the wonderful things that Barney brings to his playing, melody, surprise, space, joy and groove.

15th may

Gerard Masters

22nd may

Judy Bailey

Judy played some amazing solo pieces in her own wonderful style, and then invited some guests to play some lovely long formed and twisting jazz standards. The guests were David Symes on double bass and Spike Mason on saxophone.

29th may

Mike Nock