ardy says, “Music is an expression of the soul and I always try to speak through my horn. I once heard an older musician say ‘it is better to be felt than to be heard’. I never forgot that. That is my approach regardless of what form or style I am playing.”
Born into a musical family, Gregory Tardy began his musical career studying classical clarinet. In high school, Gregory excelled in music, winning many awards and scholarships. While studying with renowned clarinetists Russell Dagon and Jack Snavely, Tardy began preparing for a symphony career. Over time, he began to be asked to play saxophone, to fill in missing gaps in various high school and college ensembles. Although he never practiced the saxophone seriously, Tardy began getting calls to play local funk gigs in the Milwaukee area. At the prodding of his older brother, Tardy finally explored the music of John Coltrane, and determined to be a jazz musician.
His passion for the saxophone took over his studies and soon his clarinet was gathering dust. At this time, he moved to St. Louis and after a year of performing on the jazz and blues scene, he decided to move back to his birthplace, New Orleans, in order to focus his jazz studies even further. While in New Orleans, Tardy played with some of the local brass bands and also gigged with the Neville Brothers, a local reggae band and even a rap group. But he never stopped pursuing jazz. He had the opportunity to perform and learn from many local greats and was a member of bands led by Nicholas Payton, Jason and Ellis Marsalis.
In 1992, Tardy recorded his first solo project, Crazy Love (featuring a special guest performance by his mother, vocalist JoAnne Tardy, who is also a classical-turned jazz performer). 1992 is also the year that he was picked up by Elvin Jones Jazz Machine-a relationship that lasted several years. During the time with the legendary Elvin Jones, Tardy felt that it was finally time to move to the Big Apple.
In New York he went on to perform and record with an extremely large array of prominent artists including: Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Wynton Marsalis, Jay McShann, Steve Coleman, Betty Carter, James Moody, Bill Frisell, Rashied Ali , John Patitucci, and many more. In 1999, Tardy began to play in various bands led by the great Andrew Hill; a relationship that has lasted many years and has produced several highly acclaimed recordings. He has also performed and/or recorded along with many other notable saxophonists, such as Joe Lovano, Mark Turner, Chris Potter, Dewey Redman, Ravi Coltrane, and many others. In more recent years, Tardy has gone full circle, by bringing his clarinet out of retirement, using it on recordings by Tom Harrell, Ohad Talmor/Steve Swallow, Stefan Harris, and Andrew Hill. More...