Mads Tolling Quartet
Mads Tolling, internationally renowned violinist, violist, and composer, is a member of the two-time Grammy® Award-Winning Turtle Island Quartet. As a soloist, he regularly tours as jazz violinist with the acclaimed bassist Stanley Clarke and his touring band.
Mads has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and his recordings have received rave reviews in DownBeat Magazine, Strings Magazine, the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has performed with Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Barron, Paquito D’Rivera, and more.
Since 2007, Mads has led his own group, the Mads Tolling Quartet. His 2009 album, The Playmaker, features bass legend Stanley Clarke and jazz greats Russell Ferrante and Stefon Harris. His latest recording, Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty – Live at Yoshi’s was released in May 2012 on Madsmen Records, and features top Bay Area musicians, including Mike Abraham on guitar, George Ban-Weiss on bass and Eric Garland on drums.
The Mads Tolling Quartet has performed all over the U.S and internationally, including Yoshi’s San Francisco and Oakland, Russian River Jazz Festival, Yerba Buena Gardens, Grass Valley Performance Arts, Summerlin Library, Las Vegas and Blues Alley, Washington D.C.
Describing Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty -- Live at Yoshi’s, the San Francisco Chronicle said “the album is marked with virtuosic moments of sublime, genre-busting string work by Tolling...” and the Washington Post lauded “Tolling’s honed technique, vigorous attack and engaging brand of swing.” Mads explains that “It was my goal with this album to have a wide range of material that was closely related to Ponty. I didn’t want to recreate his compositions, but instead offer my take on them and also show the great range of projects he has done through the years--including Frank Zappa’s band, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Rite of Strings and even the swing and bebop stuff he did early on in his career.”
The 13-song set list includes some of Ponty’s greatest hits, “New Country” and “Enigmatic Ocean,” along with music by Ponty’s cohorts John McLaughlin (“Lila’s Dance”); Stanley Clarke (“Song to John”); and Frank Zappa (“King Kong”). Closing the set is Mads’ own tribute to Ponty, “Pontyfication.”
As violist with Turtle Island Quartet, 2003-2007 (and now as violinist, 2007-present), Mads maintains an active touring and recording schedule as well as composing and giving master classes. In 2006 and 2008, as part of Turtle Island Quartet, Mads won two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Crossover album with the recordings 4+Four and A Love Supreme – The Legacy of John Coltrane. Tolling has received Denmark’s Sankt Annae’s Award for Musical Excellence as well as grants from Queen Margaret, the Sonning Foundation and the Berklee Elvin Jones Award.
Mads grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark and moved to the U.S. at the age of 20 to pursue jazz studies. He studied under violinist Matt Glaser, and he graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2003. While still attending Berklee, the renowned jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty recommended Mads to join Stanley Clarke’s band. Since then, he has performed more than 100 concerts with Clarke worldwide, including the Newport Jazz Festival and the Hollywood Bowl.
Besides his activities as a performer, Mads Tolling is an accomplished composer. The Playmaker mainly features Mads’ original compositions in addition to well-known pieces such as Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” and P. W. Ellis’s “The Chicken.” Of his three prior recordings of original material, one features the legendary pianist JoAnne Brackeen. Mads has recorded with vibraphonist Dave Samuels, and appears on R&B singer Teena Marie’s recording La Dona and jazz vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway’s At Last. He has additionally contributed numerous arrangements and compositions to Turtle Island Quartet’s repertoire.
Mads has been a thriving force in the educational aspects of jazz and improvisation. He has been active as a Yamaha clinician and has been involved in workshops, coachings and master classes throughout Canada and the U.S. Recently Mads has been involved with pro bono work for the Music Rocks foundation in San Leandro bringing his musical & educational skills to high schools where the music budget has been cut dramatically in recent years. In his spare time Mads enjoys golfing, tennis and hiking. In 1999, together with his father, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
“A wonderful new voice on the violin -- very refreshing!” -- Chick Corea
“Mads Tolling is the most exciting musician I have come across in the past ten years. This recording represents some of the most creative music making out there.” -- Stanley Clarke
“Mr. Tolling is a virtuoso who doesn’t abandon his listeners. Speed Of Light, with sophistication and maturity doesn’t abandon accessibility. This is fascinating, hooky and satisfying music and Mads takes it beyond the academy and back to the ear.” -- Leo Kottke
“[Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty -- Live at Yoshi’s] has a warmth and intensity somehow amplified by the in-the-moment liveness of the occasion. The fiery moments are fierier and the tender moments more moving..” -- Joe Woodard (Contributor, DownBeat and JazzTimes)