Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mads Tolling Quartet Celebrating Jean Luc Ponty Live At Yoshi's 2012

U.S. Street Date May 15, 2012
Available for pre-order now at


Mads Tolling is an internationally acclaimed violinist and holds the distinction as a double Grammy Award - winner with the Turtle Island String Quartet! Tolling also leads his own ensemble the Mads Tolling Quartet and while he next release is a month away, in the day of the digital download and the tight disposable income dollar of the current economy - knowing your options is more of a public service than it is responsible journalism. The official street date of yesterday has been replaced by the streaming gratification of today and with Celebrating Jean Luc Ponty - Live At Yoshi's advance notice is certainly worth noting!

A native of Copenhagen Denmark, Tolling moved to the U.S. at 20 to pursue his studies at the highly regarded Berklee College of Music. Tolling actually met Ponty who encouraged the young phenom to join Stanley Clarke's band and since this union has performed at more than 100 concerts with the legendary Clarke worldwide.

There is a bit of musical irony if not fitting poetic justice in this neo-fusion tribute to Tolling's hero Jean Luc Ponty. The common bond between the two virtuoso talents being the keen grasp of a melodic sense of purpose despite coming from different eras and with slightly diverse musical attitudes. The recording Live At Yoshi's is one of intimate warmth and brimming with a sonic excitement difficult to capture under normal circumstance much less in paying a fitting musical homage to the enigmatic Jean Luc Ponty. Tolling band is an ensemble to make Ponty as well as many others sit up and take notice. This tight knit ensemble features the six string pyrotechnics of Mike Abraham on guitar, bassist George Ban-Weiss and drummer Eric Garland. Fusion has just been taken off life support as a new pulse has been found. The release works incredible well due to the stated desire not to merely showcase passable covers but to attempt to push Ponty's music as well as the compositions of others into new paths of sonic texture while leaving Tolling's own indelible mark on these great works.

"Enigmatic Ocean" is approached with a slightly more organic feel without losing the lyrical depth of field that is characteristic approach of the Ponty original. As the tune develops the ensemble embraces the melodic intensity of both Tolling while perhaps channeling the inspiration of Ponty himself. A sonic journey of the mind as well as the heart. Taste is subjective and while experiences can vary, the harmonic and lyrical fire shown is universal in approach and a celebration of not the passing of the musical torch but an acknowledgement of the joyous abandon that is the creation of such sonic wonders. "New Country" is a Ponty composition again with an at times subtle organic approach adding texure and character to a timeless tune that is brimming with shifting harmonics and playful meter and is a pleasant reminder of the incredible virtuosity that Ponty placed in every recording is now influencing such a prodigious young talent as Tolling. Closing out with "Pontyfication" finds this quartet performing a Ponty induced sonic exploratory of syncopated lyrical harmonic development that celebrates the transformation of the musical cycle coming full circle

More than technically proficient and artistically gifted, Mads Tolling is part of the new voice of fusion. Is this part of a fusion revival? It would be hard if not impossible to revive music that has never gone away but at best been in more a self induced artistic comma but Tolling an artist capable of not reinventing but regenerating interest in a genre that many are looking at today as a welcome release of the overly commercial pablum being churned out at an alarming rate from some labels and artists alike.

5 Stars.

Tracks: Lila's Dance; Song To John; Old Country; Struggle of the Turtle (Intro); King Kong; Enigmatic Ocean; Bowing Bowing; Struggle of the Turtle (Outro); Last Memories of Her; New Country; Beatrice; Into To Pontyfication; Pontyfication.

Personnel: Mads Tolling: violin; Mike Abraham: guitar; George Ban-Weiss: bass; Eric Garland: drums.

Special Thanks To Michael Bloom Media Relations!