published Friday, May 13th, 2011

Barking Legs hosts jazz co-op Saturday


Q&A with jazz saxophonist Gregory Tardy


1992: “Crazy Love”

1998: “Serendipity”

2000: “The Hidden Light”

2001: “Abundance”

2005: “The Truth”

2006: “Steps of Faith”

2007: “He Knows My Name”

2010: “The Strongest Love”

2011: “Monuments”



Mark Boling: guitar

Keith Brown: drums

Rusty Holloway: bass

From the street corners of New Orleans to St. Louis blues clubs to New York jazz joints, the road that brought saxophonist Greg Tardy to Knoxville was long and diverse.

Tardy, who last year joined the jazz faculty of the University of Tennessee, said every place he’s lived has left a mark on his music.

“They’ve all influenced me, to a large degree,” he said. “If there’s any roundness to my playing, that’s where it comes from.”

Saturday, Tardy will join fellow UTK faculty members Mark Boling (guitar), Keith Brown (drums) and Rusty Holloway (bass) at Barking Legs Theater.

Raised by two opera singers, Tardy found an early musical love for classical music, although he admits to being an avid fan of prog-rock giants Rush.

At age 9, he took up the clarinet, an instrument he pursued throughout high school. At the time, Tardy said, saxophone was just an instrument to goof around on.

“After I felt like I had enough fun [on sax], I got back to bashing it out on the clarinet,” he said. “I never really looked at switching over completely, though; it was something I did for fun.”

Throughout college, saxophone continued to be a vehicle to gigs with a funk/fusion group and, briefly, a polka band. Then, Tardy’s brother introduced him to the Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane album “Monk/Trane.”

By the time “Monk’s Moods” ended, Tardy said his entire outlook changed.

“He ruined my classical career,” Tardy said, laughing. “[Monk] was doing a lot of things that, in the classical sense, were considered unmusical, but it was still beautiful.

“I couldn’t understand that. I was caught in that classical mentality, and I was trying to understand it.”

In pursuit of that understanding, Tardy traveled many places studying and performing with a range of artists, including Dave Hazeltine, Ellis Marsalis, Victor Goines, Bill Frisell and Tom Harrell.

As much as he’s learned, Tardy said he’s constantly evolving.

“I still feel like even now, in my mid-40s, I still get introduced to new things that make me want to lock myself away to study and practice nonstop until I work things out,” he said. “I’m still growing and still learning.”

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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