Mads Tolling


Mads Tolling, internationally renowned violinist and composer, a former member of both Turtle Island Quartet and bassist Stanley Clarke’s band, has spent most of his professional life touring internationally. Since 2007, Mads has led his own group, Mads Tolling Quartet. “The Playmaker,” released in the fall of 2009, features Stanley Clarke and jazz greats Russell Ferrante and Stefon Harris. A brand new MTQ album, “Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty – Live at Yoshi’s,” was released in May, 2012. Mads has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and his recordings have received rave reviews in Downbeat Magazine, Strings Magazine, the Washington Post & the San Francisco Chronicle. He has performed with Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Barron & Paquito D’Rivera.

In 2006 and 2008, during his nine years 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.” 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, including top Bay Area musicians Mike Abraham on guitar, George Ban-Weiss on bass, and Eric Garland on drums.

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, and the Monterey Jazz Festival. MTQ toured nationally and internationally in ’13-’14.

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 in 2003 from Berklee College of Music, in Boston. While still attending Berklee, the renowned jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty recommended Mads to join Stanley Clarke’s band. Since then, Mads has 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 two most recent 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, and appears on R&B 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.

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. 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.

In his spare time, Mads enjoys tennis, golfing and hiking. In 1999, together with his father, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.