Mads Tolling

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Mads Tolling
Background information
Born (1980-07-05) July 5, 1980 (age 43)
Copenhagen, Denmark
GenresClassical, jazz
Instrument(s)Violin, viola
Years active2003–present

Mads Tolling (born July 5, 1980)[1] is a Danish-American violinist, violist, composer and two-time Grammy Award-Winner.

As a former member of the Turtle Island Quartet[2] and bassist Stanley Clarke’s band,[3] Tolling is today leading his own projects and bands. He won Grammy Awards for Best Classical Crossover Album as part of Turtle Island Quartet's recordings 4+Four (2006)[4] and A Love Supreme - The Legacy of John Coltrane (2008).[4] He recorded on Stanley Clarke's The Toys of Men (2007).[3] Tolling was nominated for another Grammy in the Classical Compendium Category in 2015 with the album, Mike Marshall & The Turtle Island Quartet. In 2016 he was the winner of the DownBeat Critics Poll Rising Star Violin Award.

Tolling currently focuses on his solo projects, Mads Tolling & The Mads Men[5] and the Mads Tolling Quartet,[6] and he has recorded five albums as a bandleader. He has also received commissions to write and solo with symphony orchestras. He has performed with Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Barron, Paquito D'Rivera, Leo Kottke and Sergio & Odair Assad.[7]

Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tolling relocated to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music where he graduated Summa Cumme Laude in 2003. After graduating He received Denmark's Sankt Annae's Award for Musical Excellence as well as grants from Queen Margrethe, the Sonning Foundation and the Berklee Elvin Jones Award. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music, he has toured worldwide with the Stanley Clarke band and Turtle Island Quartet. He has also performed with Al Di Meola, Kenny Barron, Paquito D'Rivera, and Leo Kottke.[7]

Early life[edit]

Tolling grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark, and he started playing the violin at age six. He was trained classically, at first using the Suzuki method and later using variety of material. One of his early childhood memories involved busking in the streets of Copenhagen with his sister playing classical pieces and Scandinavian folk songs. Mads attended the musically minded, Sankt Annae High School, and after graduation he received a large scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. At Berklee Tolling studied with JoAnne Brackeen, Hal Crook and Joe Lovano, and he met and jammed with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, who in turn recommended Mads to join bassist Stanley Clarke's band. Mads graduated Berklee Summa Cumme Laude in 2003


In 2003, Tolling started touring internationally with Stanley Clarke. Performances included The Hollywood Bowl, Ronnie Scott's and The North Sea Jazz Festival. Tolling played in Clarke's band till 2010, and the two musicians have collaborated on three recordings to date.

Tolling joined Turtle Island Quartet in 2003 at first on viola, and in 2008 he switched to play the violin. Tolling's time in the group included much international touring, and the group performed at hundreds of venues around the US, including the Library of Congress and New York's Merkin Hall. As part of the quartet he won two Grammy Awards in the Classical Crossover Category and received an additional nomination in 2015. Tolling ended his time in the group in 2012 to pursue solo projects.

Mads Tolling Quartet[edit]

In 2007, Mads Tolling formed the Mads Tolling Trio and immediately recorded Speed of Light (2008).[8] Six of the 11 tracks are original compositions. The following year, he added a drummer and the group became the Mads Tolling Quartet.[7] He has performed at Yoshi's, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, Kuumbwa Jazz, Throckmorton Theater and Russian River Jazz Festival.[9] He has performed with The Who in their Moving On Tour in San Francisco on October 9, 2019.

The Playmaker[edit]

Mads Tolling's sophomore CD release The Playmaker features Stanley Clarke, Russell Ferrante, and Stefon Harris. Seven of the 11 tracks are original compositions. Endorsed by both Yamaha Corporation of America[7] and Connolley Music, Inc.,[10] Tolling views his instrument as part fiddle, part saxophone, part acoustic and electric violin. The Playmaker is a journey into jazz, fusion, funk, classical, and Danish folk along with rock & roll arrangements of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" and Radiohead's "Just." The Playmaker (Madsman Records/City Hall) was released on October 20, 2009.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Tolling lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.[12] When he's not performing or practicing, he enjoys golfing, tennis, and hiking.[13]


Awards and recognition[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

  • Turtle Island Quartet: 4+Four (2006)[4]
  • Turtle Island Quartet: A Love Supreme - The Legacy of John Coltrane (2008)[4]

Other Awards[edit]

  • Winner of DownBeat Magazine's Rising Star Violin Award
  • Berklee Elvin Jones Award (2002)
  • Sonning Award (2001)
  • The Augustinus Foundation, Denmark (2000)
  • Queen Margaret Award (2000)


  1. ^ "Mads Tolling Biography". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Turtle Island Quartet". Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Mads Tolling". The Players. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d "Past Winners Search". The Recording Academy. 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  5. ^ Jazz, All About (19 January 2017). "Mads Tolling and the Mads Men: Playing the 60s". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  6. ^ Moore, Nick (February 12, 2009). "Mads Tolling Quartet Fires Up Oakland Venue Yoshi's with Furious Sound". The Daily Californian. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d "Mads Tolling". Silent Strings. Yamaha United States. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Mads Tolling: Violin". Wobbly World. Freddy Clarke. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Mads Tolling Quartet". Sonic Bids Marketing.
  10. ^ "Mads Tolling". Artists and Instruments. Connolly Music Company, Inc. 2008. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  11. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (5 February 2009). "Tolling, Mads: The Playmaker". City Hall Records. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  12. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (February 5, 2009). "Hard work got Mads Tolling to Turtle Island". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Mads Tolling official website". Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Ann Hampton Callaway Discography". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  15. ^ Hadley, Diane. "Veteran Bassist Sekou Bunch's All-Star First Solo Album, The Next Level, Hits the Streets". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  16. ^ "Le Chemin | Jessica Fichot".
  17. ^ "Shadow of Your Wings | Fernando Ortega". Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Balance: New Original Jazz Album". Yotam Rosenbaum. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Teena Marie – La Doña". Discogs. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  20. ^ Bernstein, Scott (November 18, 2021). "Bob Weir & Wolf Bros Announce New Live Album 'Live in Colorado'". JamBase. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  21. ^ Bernstein, Scott (August 4, 2022). "Bob Weir & Wolf Bros Announce New Live Album 'Live in Colorado Vol. 2' & Share 'Ripple'". JamBase. Retrieved August 4, 2022.

External links[edit]