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Mads Tolling

"There is a generation of young string players who have come up with equal regard for the Bach Cello Suites and Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, for Beethoven’s String Quartets and the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame. They dig Dvorak, Debussy and Ravel but also have committed to memory John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Led Zeppelin IV.

"Violinist-composer-arranger Mads Tolling is definitely in that number. As a longstanding member for the last six years of both the fearless, genre-hopping Turtle Island Quartet and also bassist extraordinaire Stanley Clarke’s band, he is quite accustomed to shattering boundaries and pushing the envelope while dealing in the longstanding tradition of musical cross-fertilization (aka ‘fusion’). 'Being in those groups has influenced me a lot.' says the Copenhagen native, a violin prodigy at age 10 who graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Berklee College of Music in 2003. 'I would not be able to make this album had it not been for the whole wealth of musical experiences that I’ve gone through in those bands....'”

Liner notes by Bill Milkowski

"The Playmaker"

(Street date: October 20, 2009)

Mads Tolling, internationally renowned violinist, violist, and composer, is a member of the Grammy Award-Winning Turtle Island Quartet. As violist with the quartet, 2003-2007 and now as 1st violinist, 2007-present, he maintains an active touring and recording schedule as well as composing and giving master classes. As a soloist, he regularly tours as jazz violinist with the acclaimed bassist Stanley Clarke and his touring band. In 2006 as part of Turtle Island Quartet Mads won a Grammy for Best Classical Crossover album, "4+Four". For 2008 Mads is once again nominated for a Grammy with Turtle Island, this time for "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. He has performed with Paquito d'Rivera, Kenny Barron, Joe Lovano, Stefon Harris, The Assad Brothers and Leo Kottke.

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. In it are some of the top Bay Area musicians, including Mike Abraham, guitar, George Ban-Weiss, bass and Eric Garland, drums. Mads Tolling Quartet plays all over the San Francisco Bay Area including Yoshi's and Yerba Buena Gardens and will tour nationally and internationally in 2009.

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Album Review
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“Tolling has a real gift for blending an unaffected folksy sound with sparse jazz licks that are the perfect complement to the atmospheric ambiance that grace most of these tracks. While Tolling is skilled at evoking a beautiful melody, he’s equally adept at filling out the sound with powerful double-stops and intricate harmonics…..” -Strings Magazine

“Mads Tolling Quartet Fires Up Oakland Venue Yoshi's with Furious Sound”…. “Mads' solo on "Star-maker Machinery" brought the house down and rightly so.” -The Daily Californian

“Now, as a bandleader, he'll showcase not just his flying bow and creatively nimble improvisation but also his eclectic arrangements…..” -SF Bay Guardian

“The set concluded with bassist Stanley Clarke’s tribute to Coltrane, "Song to John," played in a complex but musically gripping arrangement by Tolling.” -LA Times

“……with Tolling a dominant voice, also reminiscent of Jean-Luc Ponty’s more finessed fusion…..” -All About Jazz

“……Tolling's “Danish Dessert”, with a snappy New Age kind of swing, was a big hit……” -Grand Rapids Press

“……The beautiful viola sounds of Mads Tolling…… I can’t remember the last time I heard a viola being played so gorgeously.” -The West Australian

“A high point was Tolling's emulation of horn stylings from the era on "Resolution," mixing bursts of notes and drawn out higher tones, although his phrasing was more contemporary and glided smoother than Coltrane.” -All About Jazz

Primary Instrument


Willing to teach

Advanced only


Mads Tolling is a clinician for Yamaha and has given multiple masterclasses at various cities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Saskatoon, Montreal, Visalia, Los Angeles. Mads recently did a workshop at Mcqueen Highschool in Reno, NV.

Mads has in addition taught at Mark O'Connor's fiddle camp in San Diego in 2008.

Mads has a small roster of private students studying jazz violin.

Clinic/Workshop Information

Mads Tolling is a clinician for Yamaha and has given multiple masterclasses at various cities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Saskatoon, Montreal, Visalia, Los Angeles

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Daggerboard And the...

Wide Hive Records


Going My Way

Self Produced



Self Produced


Playing the 60s

Self Produced


George Cole LIVE!

Acoustic Disc




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