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Greg Tardy: Wherever He Wants Me

By Published: October 16, 2013
GT: Oh, yes! God has entrusted me with these precious souls. It's my job to make them into people that God would be happy with, and to make sure that they are properly cared for. And I think about my father, who sacrificed greatly for me. You know, he was a phenomenal opera singer, who could have had a great career. (Actually I wanted to document his singing—I documented my mother on some of my CDs—but I really wanted to document my father. Unfortunately he has emphysema now, so it's harder for him to sing.) But he knew his responsibility in raising me and my brother and my sister. So he worked in the same cab company for most of my adult life. He made it possible for me and my siblings and my mother to have some things that we would not have had otherwise. My father is a huge role model for me, and I don't want to do any less for my kids.

GC: What advice would you give your students to survive in the jazz business?

GT: Be flexible. This isn't 1940! And even back then, musicians had their art music and then they worked in bands to make a living until they were at the point where could totally pursue their art. And I had to do that for years. I worked in funk bands, rock bands, punk rock bands, [and] rap bands. I did a lot of second line stuff in New Orleans... fusion bands.

GC: Do you care if people know that you, a jazz saxophonist, are a RUSH fan?

GT: [laughs] Well... yeah, OK, it's out there now! There was a time when I was a RUSH fanatic. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. I thought it was great on that tour in 1998 when halfway through the tour, we discovered that you, me, Sean, and Woody were all RUSH fans. We were quoting little licks from "Permanent Waves." That was fun.

GC : Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

GT: [laughs] Well, hopefully alive with my back still working! It's all God's will. I mean, wherever he wants me. I never thought I'd be working at a mega-church years ago and never thought I'd be leaving when I did. I hope I'm still alive and playing, and if not... I'll be in the kingdom.

GC: What are your thoughts regarding the election of Barak Obama?

GT: I think it's a real blessing that my parents, who had to drink at separate drinking fountains from white people, who had to sit at the back of the bus, who had to cross the street if a white person was walking down the street—I'm glad that they lived to see that, that they deserved to see that. Also, I'm glad that kids now have a role model in the White House, someone who is not advocating destructive lifestyles, who is a family man, who started in difficult circumstances, worked his way up to become the first African-American President of the United States. That's really phenomenal.

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Download jazz mp3 “Cheetah” by Gregory Tardy