Mads Tolling Quartet: Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty (2012)
Mads Tolling spent nine prominent years with the Turtle Island Quartet; here, with his quartet, the Grammy Award-winning violinist hails Jean Luc-Ponty at Yoshi's jazz venue in Oakland, CA. Tolling contributes two original compositions to complement six Ponty-penned works, amid other pieces culled from the legendary French violinist's expansive discography.
It's a bit sleeker, when directly contrasting Ponty's epic jazz-fusion Enigmatic Ocean (Atlantic, 1977). But Tolling turns up the heat via his intensely soaring unison choruses with guitarist Mike Abraham, and exercises a gleaming and impactful cover, though not as loud or ominous as the original rendition featuring Allan Holdsworth and Daryl Stuermer's blazing dual-guitar leads and solos.
The frontline imparts the sonorous melody amid soaring unison lines and a sense of openness, affording ample soloing opportunities and perky call-and-response mechanisms with the rhythm section. With yearning notes and a few rifling flurries, Tolling and Abraham extract the core attributes of the composition, but redesign the bridge section with a custom-built perspective. The varied track mix, containing numerous ebbs, flows, and variances in delivery, equates to an impassioned program gushing with an abundance of entertaining qualities.
Personnel: Mads Tolling: violin; Mike Abraham: guitar; George Ban-Weiss: bass; Eric Garland: drums.
Record Label: Madsman Records
Style: Modern Jazz