“Mads has the amazing talent and skills that few young musicians can match. His music is both beautiful and refreshing exhibiting his superb mastery of the modern American Jazz music that is rarely seen among his peers.”
— Jean-Luc Ponty
Mads Tolling, internationally renowned violinist and composer, is a two-time Grammy Award-Winner and the 2016 DownBeat Critics Poll Rising Star winning violinist. As a former nine-year member of both Turtle Island Quartet and bassist Stanley Clarke’s band, Mads has spent most his professional life touring internationally. Since 2007 Mads has lead his own group, Mads Tolling Quartet. “The Playmaker” released in the fall of 2009, features Stanley Clarke and jazz greats Russell Ferrante & Stefon Harris. A MTQ album: “Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty – Live at Yoshi’s” was released in May, 2012. Mads’ latest album is called “Mads Tolling & The Mads Men – Playing the 60s,” which features classic songs from TV, film and radio in fresh jazzy versions with his quartet and guest vocalists Kenny Washington, Kalil Wilson and Spencer Day. Mads has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and his recordings have received rave reviews in Downbeat Magazine, Strings Magazine, Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has performed with Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Barron & Paquito D’Rivera.
For nine years in Turtle Island Quartet, Mads spent most of his professional life on the road or in the recording studio. In ‘06 and ‘08 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.” In 2015 with Turtle Island, he received a Grammy nomination collaborating with Mike Marshall. Mads is the winner of the 2016 DownBeat Critics Poll Rising Star Violin Award. Mads has received Denmark’s Sankt Annae’s Award for Musical Excellence as well as grants from Queen Margaret, Sonning Foundation and the Berklee Elvin Jones Award.
In 2007 Mads Tolling started his own trio and immediately recorded the album “Speed of Light.” The following year the trio expanded to a quartet. Today, 10 years later the quartet is still going strong, and in it are some of the top Bay Area musicians, including Colin Hogan on piano, Sam Bevan on bass and Eric Garland on drums. The Mads Tolling Quartet has performed all over the U.S including Yoshi’s San Francisco & Oakland, Herbst Theatre, Russian River Jazz Festival, Yerba Buena Gardens, Grass Valley Performance Arts, Blues Alley in Washington DC, Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, Monterey Jazz Festival and many venues large and small across the US.
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, Mads performed more than one hundred concerts with Clarke worldwide, including the Newport Jazz Festival and the Hollywood Bowl and appears on Clarke’s album: “Toys of Men.”
Besides his activities as a performer, Mads Tolling is an accomplished composer. In addition to his original writing on his albums, Mads arranged one of his compositions for saxophonist Joe Lovano and string orchestra. Of his three prior recordings of original material, one features the legendary pianist JoAnne Brackeen. Mads has recorded with vibraphonist Dave Samuels, appears on RMB singer Teena Marie’s recording “La Dona” and on jazz vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway’s “At Last.” He has additionally contributed numerous arrangements and compositions to Turtle Island Quartet’s repertoire. In 2014 Mads was commissioned by Music Director, Michael Morgan and the James Irvine Foundation to write a Violin Concerto (“Begejstring”) for Oakland Symphony Orchestra. The highly anticipated performance took place at the sold out 3000 seat Paramount Theatre in 2015. The piece and the performance turned out to be an overwhelming success, and Mads received high praise from the orchestra, critics and audience alike.
Mads Tolling is a thriving force in the educational aspects of jazz and improvisation. He is a Yamaha clinician and has been involved in workshops, coachings and master classes throughout Canada and the U.S. Since 2010 Mads has been on faculty at Berkeley’s Jazzschool Institute mainly focusing on spreading the knowledge of jazz and groove oriented styles to string players of all ages. He is on faculty at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and he has taught at the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp. In 2017 Mads presented a workshop at Jazz Education Network in New Orleans.