Since its founding in 1985, the quartet has established itself as a unique creative ensemble combining classical aesthetics with contemporary American musical styles. In 2006 and 2008, the band was awarded Grammy for the best classic crossover album. As the brainchild of violinist David Balakrishnan, who founded the quartet while he was studying in San Francisco in the early 1980s, the band borrowed its name from the Turtle Island Quartet from Indian mythology. One of the characteristics of the quartet was the original idea of David Balakrishnan - to create a team, which would be based on improvisation. Today, each member of the quartet, along with classical music, has an additional jazz education.
For more than 30 years, the quartet has drawn inspiration from such musical styles as folk, bluegrass, swing, bebop, funk, rock, and also from the folk music of Latin America and India.
The quartet discography counts 15 discs, including the last Confetti Man CD nominated for Grammy. Quartet members also write soundtracks to Hollywood films and regularly collaborate with many famous American musicians.