The music teacher arrives in concert with one of the best jazz groups in the world

Greg Tardy, associate professor of jazz saxophone, will take a five-week hiatus after teaching this semester to tour with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, conducted by Wynton Marsalis.

“I was fortunate to have some really good opportunities,” Tardy said. “It is an incredible honor to be called upon to perform with Wynton and the members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, because they are the premier jazz orchestra in the world. I consider Wynton to be one of the iconic and most important artists of this era. He is one of the musicians who inspired me to become a professional jazz musician and made me think I could do it.

Tardy will replace a member of the orchestra on vacation and will travel with the orchestra for most of September and part of October. They will give several concerts in California as well as in Texas, Missouri and Indiana.

He will play four instruments: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet.

While the upcoming concert with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is Tardy’s longest professional tour since joining UT, it is not his first.

“During the last eight years that I have taught at UT, I have had the opportunity to continue to play on the world stage in jazz, and I think it is these experiences that keep me active and dynamic as a teacher, ”he said. “The development and growth of my students is of the utmost importance and I have always made it a top priority. The experience I gain from these performances helps make me a viable teacher. It’s like a science professor doing research in a lab.

Tardy said he worked with his colleagues at the School of Music to cover his lessons while he was away. He will also be able to teach online.

Music school principal Jeffrey Pappas is fully supportive.

“It is the most prestigious international jazz orchestra in the world,” said Pappas. “It’s too important an invitation for Greg to pass up on.”

Although Tardy has known Wynton Marsalis – and his father, Ellis Marsalis, and brothers, Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason Marsalis – for years, it takes more than friendship to land a spot in a professional touring band.

Tardy said replacing a professional set requires quick work and versatility.

“I go back and go over some of my transcriptions and styles of New Orleans jazz, 1930s Kansas City jazz, and work by Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and others to make sure I plays in the idiom, ”he said. . While he will expect to see some of the music in advance so that he has time to practice, other parts are being ordered and may not be available in advance. Tardy will probably also do musical improvisation.

The key to being a good ensemble hitter, he said, is to be able to “read difficult music and make it sound like you’ve played it your whole life.”

Tardy was born into a family of musicians and began his career studying classical clarinet. In college, he gradually switched to the saxophone and began to learn jazz music.

Before coming to UT, he traveled the world performing.

He recorded the first of his 14 solo projects,Crazy Love, in 1992. The following year, he began an international tour with legendary drummer Elvin Jones in the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, a partnership that lasted several years.

Tardy has lived in some of the country’s jazz meccaes – New Orleans, Saint Louis, and New York City – and has performed or recorded with many prominent musicians, including Wynton Marsalis, Bill Frisell, Eddie Palmieri, the Neville Brothers. , Allen Toussaint, Andrew Hill, Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Steve Coleman, Betty Carter, Rashied Ali, Dewey Redman and Ravi Coltrane (son of John Coltrane).

At UT, Tardy teaches weekly jazz saxophone majors. He also teaches an introductory improvisation course, a jazz composition course and small group ensembles, and contributes to a musical methods course jointly taught by all jazz teachers.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Ada J. Kenney