Mads Tolling is a worldly musician. Raised in Denmark, the Grammy-winning jazz violinist moved to the U.S. to study at Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music. He’s now based in the Bay Area. When reached by phone, he had just performed in Japan and was relishing a bit of sightseeing.
“it’s very cool,” Tolling says. “Wherever you go in Japan, they’re playing jazz — in restaurants and cafés and so forth. Jazz is part of the society, maybe even more so that the U.S.”
Tolling, whose latest album with his quartet The Mads Men is “Playing the 60s,” began playing violin at age 6. He grew to feel limited by the regimentation required in the classical world.
“My dad was into jazz. He would listen a lot to Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis. When I was 14, we were traveling around the world on a trip. We were quite adventurous. My parents wanted to us to see the Third World, people that were not as fortunate as we were, growing up.
“We were in Thailand and he handed me a cassette tape of Miles Davis playing all these great songs. I just loved the sound for some reason. I enjoyed the intimacy and expression without really knowing what it was. And then I was off on this journey of learning that music. At that point, I went more in the jazz path.”
In Denmark, jazz violin was not so unusual, because of the popularity of the legendary Svend Asmussen, who recently passed away at age 100. His playing influenced young Tolling, as did that of France’s Stéphane Grappelli.
In other countries, including the U.S. and Japan, jazz violin is regarded as more unconventional. Tolling says, “Most people have the idea that jazz is supposed to be saxophone and trumpet, not violin. Violin is supposed to be Yitzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell. When they find out that I play jazz on it, it’s like, ‘Wow, I don’t know what that is, but let’s go check it out.’ So that’s part of the fun now, for sure.”
Tolling was set to attend the conservatory in Copenhagen when a friend told him about Berklee. “it sounded like an adventure, to be able to go to the U.S., study jazz where it was born, and try something different.”
While teaching a master class at Berklee, Jean-Luc Ponty was impressed by Tolling’s playing. He recommended him to Stanley Clarke, when the great electric …
Source:: East Bay – Entertainment