.It’s a Mads, Mads, Mads World

The opening SC Symphony show stretches the boundaries

Our excellent and evolving Santa Cruz Symphony is offering some appetizing extras this season, and you won’t want to miss a chance to catch the Mads Tolling show this coming Sunday, Oct. 8, the opening concert of the expanded 2023-24 Recital Series.

Mads Tolling & the Mads Men are wildly talented musicians changing the way you’re going to think about live music. Jazz standards and cinematic classics are reimagined and swung through the brilliant violin stylings of two-time Grammy Award winner Mads Tolling.

 Yes, you might not think of the violin as an instrument designed for jazz. But Tolling and company will change your mind about that preconception. The native of Copenhagen, Denmark was turned on to jazz at the age of 14.

Jazz genius Miles Davis was the instrument of change and by the time Tolling was 20 he was mad for jazz, coming to this country to study jazz at the renowned Berklee College of Music. Even while he was a student he started touring with Stanley Clarke and his band, and with the Turtle Island String Quartet.

The touring has never stopped, and the Grammy awards began. Tolling not only performs and jams with jazz greats from his San Francisco base, he’s a composer as well, and was commissioned by the Oakland East Bay Symphony for a violin concerto.

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What’s exciting about the Danish-American violin explorer is his cross-over tendency that has taken him through the classical repertoire, into the heart of American jazz, into the eclectic sounds of his latest project, Mads Men. What Santa Cruz audiences will enjoy this coming weekend is Tolling’s playful celebration of ’60s style jazz classics, with the Mads Men Sam Beven on bass, Colin Hogan on piano, and Eric Garland on drums as his world-class backup band.

Remember all those irresistible 60s studio band numbers? Herb Alpert and “A Taste of Honey”? Tijuana Brass, the theme from The Pink Panther?

Coaxing uncanny, unbelievable sounds from his violin, Tolling has a lot of fun swinging his way through innovative versions of Bob Dylan by way of Jimi Hendrix. From blues to salsa to every great TV theme song, and pungent movie soundtrack favorites, the Mads Men work through imaginative morphings of soul-to-jazz licks and through it all there’s the incredible violin virtuosity of Tolling who is busy readjusting our ears and expanding our understanding of what a stringed instrument should be doing.

Mission Impossible? yeah, that’s part of his bag of instrumental tricks. You’ll remember all these classics from the great decade of popular media music, but Mads Tolling and the Mads Men will also soothe your need for nostalgia, and transform “easy listening” into a higher artform.

Mads Tolling kicks off the Sunday afternoon recital series, that continues with Hakan Ali Toker on Nov. 5, Destiny Muhammad on Dec. 17, and Gwendolyn Mok on Jan. 7. Nothing is as exciting and memorable as live music, and the Santa Cruz Symphony Sunday Afternoon Recital Series is the perfect avenue into new experiences for every music lover, newcomer or veteran.

Sunday, Oct. 8 at 2pm at the Samper Recital Hall, Cabrillo College. Tickets.


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