b. c. 1964, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Tardy studied classical clarinet as a child, encouraged by his parents, both of whom were opera singers. His mother, Jo Anne Tardy, after singing classical music became a gospel-influenced jazz singer. After switching to tenor saxophone, Tardy played with funk bands in Milwaukee before his brother urged him to listen to jazz, after which he was especially influenced by John Coltrane’s recordings. He studied at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and at the University of New Orleans, along the way encountering Ellis Marsalis who became tutor and mentor. Resident in New York City from 1992, Tardy became deeply involved in the contemporary jazz and improvised music scenes. Among musicians with whom he has played are Rashied Ali, Omer Avitel, Jonathan Blake, Betty Carter, Steve Coleman, George Colligan, Ravi Coltrane, Sean Conly, Xavier Davis, Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell, Aaron Goldberg, Russell Gunn, Eric Harland, Tom Harrell, Antonio Hart, Andrew Hill, Elvin Jones, Joe Lovano, Ellis Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Jay McShann, Mulgrew Miller, James Moody, John Patitucci, Nicholas Payton, Chris Potter, Dewy Redman, David Schumacher, Mark Turner and Bobby Watson, the latter being cited as an especially important influence.
Tardy customarily leads his own quintet but is also a regular member of other bands, including a cooperative quartet, the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, recording 2007’s Blues Man From Memphis released by Blue Canoe Records. Others in this quartet are John Clayton, Stefon Harris and Donald Brown. Although primarily playing tenor saxophone, Tardy has also latterly returned to the clarinet for some sessions. He has regularly returned to New Orleans, playing usually with contemporary bands, including the Young Olympians. On his 2007 recording Steps Of Faith, Tardy’s mother sings on one track, ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’.
A distinctive and forceful player, Tardy has rapidly built a reputation not only for his playing but also for his interesting compositions, which form the core of his repertoire.