Richard "Tardo" Hammer
was born in 1958 in Queens, N.Y. At age 5, Hammer began playing piano, and he went on to explore the clarinet and guitar before coming back to the piano by the time he was 13.
As a teenager, Hammer was an avid listener to recorded jazz, devouring a wide variety of work by Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Teddy Wilson, John Coltrane and others. By age 15, he'd formed his own sextet.
After high school, Hammer moved to New York and began working professionally. He took any gigs he could find and supplemented his income teaching piano. By the '80s, he'd become a regular in clubs around town, and began working with such artists as Bill Hardman, Junior Cook, Lionel Hampton, Lou Donaldson and the Art Farmer-Clifford Jordan Quintet. Hammer made his recording debut alongside Al Cohn and Mel Lewis in trumpeter Al Porcino's big band.
He has been a choice accompanist for jazz vocalists including Annie Ross, Earl Coleman, David Allyn, Abbey Lincoln, Teri Thornton, Marion Cowings and Jon Hendricks.
Since the 1990s, Hammer has been performing in clubs and festivals in Europe, Japan and the U.S. In 1999, Hammer began making trio recordings as a leader.. His sixth and most recent album is Swinging on a Star, recorded for Cellar Live. He appears as a sideman on CDs by Warren Vache, Charles Davis, Grant Stewart and many others.
Active as an educator, Hammer is on the faculty of the Lucy Moses School, The New School and the Special Music High School as well as conducting classes and lessons at clinics and colleges worldwide.