Mads Tolling and the Mads Men in Solvang: Jazz Violin Powerhouse Kicked off Jazz & Beyond Series

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Santa Barbra Independent
Josef Woodard - WED, JUN 19, 2019

Mads Tolling performing on the Solvang Festival Theatre patio Hearing jazz violin powerhouse Mads Tolling performing on the Solvang Festival Theater patio on Sunday afternoon triggered memories of the massive Copenhagen Jazz Festival, which includes music in outdoor cafés and beer gardens. The déjà vu factor zoomed upward when the Copenhagen-born, Bay Area–based Tolling launched into an old Danish folk song, arranged by the late, great Danish jazz bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (NHØP), and later, during Tolling’s own tuneful jazz-pop song “Danish Dessert,” based on his mother’s special dessert.

Tolling and his Mads Men — bassist Owen Clapp (who played a graceful, Charlie Haden–ish solo on the Danish folk song) and versatile keyboardist Colin Hogan — were on hand to launch the summer’s Jazz & Beyond series, a fundraiser for the Solvang Festival Theater. They were also mostly plugged into a specific milieu linked to the double Grammy-winning violinist’s newest album, Playing the ’60s, with lighthearted variations on ’60s-era classics.

Opening with the famously jazz-rooted Flintstones theme song in a medley with “I Got Rhythm” (the TV theme is based on Gershwin’s “Rhythm” changes), the set included a suitably soulful “Georgia on My Mind,” a Cuban-timba-inflected “All Along the Watchtower,” and a wah-wah-tinged take on Brian Wilson’s “pocket symphony,” “Good Vibrations.”

Other Danish flavors snuck into the delightful mix with 1962’s kitschy “Alley Cat” — a Grammy winner penned by Dane Bent Fabric — with crowd-baiting shticks attached; Tolling played keyboard alongside Hogan, who later juggled while playing. As if to remind us of his serious jazz cred and passion, Tolling went solo on Bill Evans’s haunting ballad “Blue in Green,” done in his “Green and Bluegrass” style. To close, the Men dove into the cozy Ellingtonia of “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” It had plenty and meant plenty.