Turtle Island Quartet - USA

David Balakrishnan, violin
Mark Summer, cello

Mads Tolling, violin
Jeremy Kittel, viola

A Love Supreme, the Legacy of John Coltrane (Telarc) 2007 and 2008 Grammy winner, Best Classical Crossover

“There is something nearly ecstatic in Turtle Island’s handling of works written by or in tribute to the jazz sax colossus John Coltrane...” — Strings Magazine

Its name derived from creation mythology found in Native American Folklore (the Ancient Ones), the Turtle Island Quartet since its inception in 1985, has been a singular force in the creation of bold, new trends in chamber music for strings. Winner of the 2006 and most recently, the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album, Turtle Island fuses the classical quartet esthetic with contemporary American musical styles, and by devising a performance practice that honors both, the state of the art has inevitably been redefined. Cellist nonpareil Yo-Yo Ma has proclaimed TIQ to be “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground – authentic and passionate – a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.”

The Quartet’s birth was the result of violinist David Balakrishnan’s brainstorming explorations and compositional vision while completing his master’s degree program at Antioch University West. The journey has taken Turtle Island through forays into folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, new age, rock, hip-hop, as well as music of Latin America and India …a repertoire consisting of hundreds of ingenious arrangements and originals.
It has included over a dozen recordings on labels such as Windham Hill, Chandos, Koch and Telarc, soundtracks for major motion pictures, TV and radio credits such as the Today Show, All Things Considered, Prairie Home Companion, and Morning Edition, feature articles in People and Newsweek magazines, and collaborations with famed artists such as clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, guitar legends such as Leo Kottke and the Assad brothers, The Manhattan Transfer, pianists Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron and Ramsey Lewis, the Ying Quartet and the Parsons Dance Company.

Another unique element of Turtle Island is their revival of venerable improvisational and compositional chamber traditions that have not been explored by string players for nearly 200 years. At the time of Haydn’s apocryphal creation of the string quartet form, musicians were more akin to today’s saxophonists and keyboard masters of the jazz and pop world, i.e., improvisers, composers, and arrangers. Each Turtle Island member is accomplished in these areas of expertise as well as having extensive conservatory training as instrumentalists.
One result of this dedication can be seen in Turtle Island’s phenomenal international appeal, particularly in Europe where chamber music remains a vital facet of life. What was once termed ‘alternative’ chamber music now firmly inhabits the mainstream. Turtle Island members refine their skills through the development of repertory by some of today’s cutting edge composers, through performances and recordings with major symphonic ensembles, and through a determined educational commitment. Turtle Island Quartet promises to be the string quartet for this new century.

New September 2010 - Turtle Island Quartet - Have You Been There?
A new dazzling Turtle Island Quartet album has just been released on Telarc Records, an homage to the legendary rock guitar player Jimi Hendrix: Turtle Island Quartet - Have You Been There? with worldfamous and unforgettable tunes like All along the Watchtower and Hey Joe.

TISQ takes on a big challenge in transforming the
music of rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix to the language
of a classical string quartet, yet succeeds with exhilarating
flair on the six Hendrix tunes (as well as seven more
tunes by TISQ founding violinist David Balakrishnan
and others). This disc follows their Grammy winning
2007 recording, A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John
Coltrane.

TISQ is Balakrishnan (violin, baritone violin), cofounder
Mark Summer (cello), Mads Tolling (violin) and
newcomer Jeremy Kittel (violin). The origins of this
project trace back to two Hendrix concerts at the L.A.
Forum that Balakrishnan attended as a teenager in 1969
and 1970, which led him to practicing Henrdix guitar
licks on his violin.

Decades later, his interest in Hendrix was fortified by
a visit to the Woodstock Museum where he watched a
video of Hendrix’s performance.

The title work, a seamless four-piece suite of Hendrix
tunes including “Have You Ever Been (To Electric
Ladyland),” “House Burning Down,” “1983…A Merman
I Should Turn to Be,” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
opens the album. That piece segues into John McLaughlin’s
lively “To Bop Or Not To Be.”

While the troupe adroitly translates Hendrix’s music,
it’s really Balakrishnan’s four-movement composition,
“Tree of Life” that is the album centerpiece. Inspired by
Darwin’s Origin of the Species, it contains four pieces
(“Ashwattha,” “Lucy,” Monkey Business,” and Coelacanth”)
which reverently embrace Indian classical music,
bluegrass, swing, bebop, Afro-Cuban styles and more.
Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is featured on the catchy
TISQ’s interpretation of Hendrix’s bluesy “Gypsy Eyes.”
Summer skillfully performs Hendrix’s “Little Wing” as a
solo cello piece.

Other tunes include Billy Roberts’ ballad, “Hey Joe,”
and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” featuring
Mike Marshall on mandocello. Hendrix made the latter
tune popular in his 1968-recorded version.

This highly recommended addition to the TISQ discography
proves that, after 25 years, this group still has
the ability to dazzle the listener. Nancy Ann Lee

A Love Supreme
In 2007 Turtle Island Quartet released their new album A love Supreme, The Legacy of John Coltrane. It’s an hommage to the legendary John Coltrane. All elements of jazzplaying get together in this ultimate jazzchamber music album: improvisation, heavy grooves, swing.

“ This is a wonderful cd that allows one to appreciate the artistic accomplishments of the Turtle Island Quartet as well as hear their fine presentation of John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’. All of the musicians perform the arangements with an introspective sense of improvisation, expansion, articulation and expression”. – Alice Coltrane

A Love Supreme (Telarc) 2007 and 2008 Grammy winner, Best Classical Crossover

“There is something nearly ecstatic in Turtle Island’s handling of works written by or in tribute to the jazz sax colossus John Coltrane...” — Strings Magazine

“The Turtle Island Quartet have the chops, the guts, the soul, the spirit and the taste to take on the musical legacy of John Coltrane— what more could anyone want?” — All Music Guide

“Jazz fans will find new pathways into “A Love Supreme” while the classical set will find a gateway to one of jazz’s enduring achievements.” — Amazon.com

Other recordings
4 Plus 4 with Ying Quartet on Telarc Records; Grammy Award Winner Best Classical Crossover
Danzon with latin clarinettist Paquito D’ Rivera
The Art of the Groove
The Hamburg Concert
Turtle Island String Quartet – a Windham Hill Retrospective
A Night in Tunisia
Spider Dreams – Spider Dreams Suite composed by David Balakrishnan


Press reviews on Turtle Island Quartet

"Impeccable precision in its pitch and coordination...ebullient!"
— New York Times

“A sterling example of first-rate jazz music-making.”
— Los Angeles Times

“....zest, imagination and brilliant technique...”
— San Francisco Examiner

“It must have been like this when Beethoven was taking Vienna by storm – the exhilaration of seeing the future of classical music unfold before your eyes and ears.”
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The strings sing, not like angels, but like they’ve been around. The improvisations...hang tough, solidly built, and take no back talk from anybody.”
— The Seattle Post-Intelligence

“...intellectually engaging, technically dazzling and emotionally rich...”
— The Birmingham News

“It’s group string jazz at its finest, not only brilliantly conceived but brilliantly played as well, by master-musicians having a wonderful time with their own wit and humor and imagination.
—Sacramento Bee

“At some other time, in some other venue, I may have heard a better live performance. But I doubt it... astonishing virtuosos... the quartet’s performance was breathtaking...”
—Nashville Scene

“Innovators to the core, the group was founded on an exploration of forms that had never been attempted in a traditional string quartet format. And they did it with amazing power and finesse. Their brilliant leads rise and subside seamlessly into the ensemble sound, keeping the focus on story line and rhythmic pulse and leading their listeners deeper into a comforting musical spell...”
— The Oregonian

“This unique, jazzy four piece continues to entertain with its distinctive brand of tight, impressive bow-ery in motions.”
— Billboard Magazine

“While the respected Kronos Quartet visits...the frontiers of jazz, bluegrass, world music and even Jimi Hendrix; Turtle Island dwells in them, and stands tradition on its civilized ear.”
— People Magazine


David Balakrishnan - violin, baritone violin; graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in music composition and violin and earned a masters degree in music composition at Antioch University West.
The Turtle Island founder developed a revolutionary compositional style – based on the principle of stylistic integration applied to bowed string instruments – that has earned him two Grammy nominations (in the instrumental arrangement category, for his string quartet adaptations of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisa,” and the jazz ballad “You’ve Changed,” featuring clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera) as well as numerous composing grants, both from private sources such as conductor Marin Alsop, who commissioned his piece for violin and orchestra, “Little Mouse Jumps,” as well as national service organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet The Composer foundations. In 2005 he received a MTC/ASOL “Music Alive” three year extended residency with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, for which he is composing six orchestral works.
The NCO also commissioned Balakrishnan’s composition “Darkness Dreaming,” which premiered in April 2004 with guitarists Sharon Isbin and John Jorgenson. His piece, “Spider Dreams” (1992), has been widely performed and recorded throughout the world by a diverse array of musical organizations, including a live recording by Turtle Island with the Detroit Symphony conducted by Neeme Järvi on Chandos Records.
More reading ………..www.turtleislandquartet.com

Mark Summer (cello) is a founding member of Turtle Island and is widely regarded, thanks not least to his phenomenal percussion and pizzicato techniques, as one of the outstanding cellists of our time. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a recipient of their 2007 DIstinguished Alumnae award, Summer was a tenured member of the Winnipeg Symphony for three years, before leaving the orchestra to perform in several Canadian contemporary and Baroque ensembles, as well as his own group, The West-End String Band. Asked to perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1985, the group went on to record Summer’s original music for CBC Radio. That same year, Summer visited the Bay Area where he was invited by David Balakrishnan to help form the quartet.
He continued to touch base with his classical roots, performing with the Chamber Symphony of San Francisco, the Oakland Symphony, Oakland Ballet, and the contemporary music ensemble, Earplay. In the 23 years since embarking on an improvisational musical odyssey, Summer has continued to develop a unique and multi-timbered style, which incorporates virtuoso jazz soloing, distinctive bass lines, and extensive percussive techniques adapted from the guitar, bass and drums.He has been the subject of feature articles in Strings and Bass Player magazines, and has published two pieces for solo cello, one of which, “Julie-O,” has been performed by cellists all over the world. In addition to composing and performing with Turtle Island, Summer performed for several years in a trio with clarinet virtuoso Paquito D’Rivera, participating in the trio’s 2005 Grammy-nominated recording The Jazz Chamber Trio.
More biography info reading ………..www.turtleislandquartet.com

Mads Tolling (violin) has received Denmark’s Sankt Annae’s Award for Musical Excellence as well as grants from Queen Margaret, the Sonning Foundation and the Berklee Elvin Jones Award. He regularly tours and records with the acclaimed bassist Stanley Clarke, and has performed with Joe Lovano, Al DiMeola, Lenny White and Gerry Brown.
Tolling grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark and moved to the U.S. at the age of 20 to pursue jazz studies. He studied under violinist Matt Glaser, and he graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2003.
While still attending Berklee, the renowned jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty recommended Tolling to join Stanley Clarke’s band. Since then, he has performed more than 100 concerts with Clarke worldwide, including the Newport Jazz Festival and Hollywood Bowl. Besides his activities as a performer, Tolling is an accomplished composer, bandleader and recording artist.
In 2006 he founded Mads Tolling Trio, and his most recent album, “Speed of Light” features six original compositions recorded with top jazz musicians in his hometown of San Francisco.
More biography info reading ………..www.turtleislandquartet.com

Jeremy Kittel – viola, newest member of Turtle Island, is rapidly earning a reputation as one of the nation’s most creative young musicians. The 2000 US National Scottish Fiddle Champion and Junior National Champion of 1998 and 1999, Kittel also qualified for international competition in Irish fiddle four consecutive years. In 2003 he competed in the first ASTA Alternative Styles Competition, winning the Alfred Award for Best Improvisation, the Mark O’Connor Award of Merit, and IAJE Award for Best Jazz Performance.
Since then, Jeremy has been awarded the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, the 2004 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Acoustic Instrumentalist, 2005 and 2006 Detroit Music Awards for Outstanding Folk Artist, 2006 Detroit Music Awards for Outstanding Jazz Album and Outstanding Jazz Composer, and the ASTA Alternative Strings Award for Music Traditions.
He graduated from the University of Michigan at 20, earning their highest musical honor, the Stanley Medal, and has a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music. Kittel has performed at over a thousand concerts and festivals over the past few years including the Kennedy Center, A Prairie Home Companion, the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony, and Carnegie Hall.
He has appeared as guest artist with the Vancouver Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Republic of Strings.

For their concertmanagement in the Netherlands Turtle Island Quartet is exclusively represented by Jupiter 4 Artists – Louise de Haas in Castricum.

For more information have a look on
www.turtleislandquartet.com

Jupiter 4 Artists - Louise de Haas
Esdoornlaan 15
1901 SC Castricum
Netherlands

tel. +31 251 674218
M: +31 6 42143397
E: info@jupiter4artists
www.jupiter4artists.nl


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos:
Peter Serling
Michael Amsler