Born: April 19, 1952 Primary Instrument: Clarinet
Clifford Irving Tetle was born in Lowell, MA on April 19, 1952. He started playing clarinet in fourth grade and his love for it never stopped. Upon graduating from high school, Clifford moved to Boston and studied at Berklee College of Music in 1970. By that time he was playing clarinet and alto saxophone. He loved playing jazz and studied under the legendary woodwind teacher Joseph Viola.
Clifford graduated Berklee in 1974 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. After college, he continued playing clubs around the Boston area. In 1975, Clifford moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where he began playing five nights at a week at a club called “Funky Butts” in the French Quarter on Bourbon St. He stayed in New Orleans for about a year and played with many wonderful musicians such as trumpet player Wallace Davenport and drummer Johnney Vodockovich.
Clifford made Boston his base, teaching days and playing nights. The late 70’s and early 80’s found Clifford traveling around the country playing with many different bands. He made many trips to New York City, eventually moving there for a short time. While there, Clifford had the honor of playing with the great trumpet legend Roy Eldridge for two nights at Jimmy Ryans Dixieland Club in New York, as well as guitar giant Grant Green in Kansas City, Missouri.
In the 90’s, Clifford made the switch from alto to tenor and found a new mentor in the seductive ballad playing and swing style of Ben Webster. On clarinet, his influences were too many to mention; Eddie Daniels, Buddy Defranco, Benny Goodman, Pete Fountain (from his New Orleans days) the list goes on.
Clifford was always interested in impacting children using his musical talents, and in 1992 accepted an elementary music position in the Boston Public Schools. A jazz musician teaching elementary school??? That’s right! By 1996, Clifford took his songwriting skills with the help of Pat Bell second grade teacher, (rest in peace) and created what would become the first of three Award Winning Childrens CDs. Each of his CDs received prestigious Parent’s Choice Awards in 1999, 2001, and 2002. He also conducted a children’s chorus, doing three of his original children’s compositions to a packed house at Boston’s famous Wang Center.
In 1999, He picked up the bass clarinet; and it was love at first sight. Influenced by Eric Dolphy, Clifford recorded one of the only solo jazz bass clarinet CDs available today; “In A Natural State.” Clifford’s most recent Jazz CD, “Some Of My Best Friends Are Woodwinds,” recorded in 2002, features many cuts performed on bass clarinet, as well as tenor saxophone and clarinet along with a rhythm section.
In 2,000, Clifford left for Europe playing in Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Amsterdam. Just before 2001 he returned to the states and presently resides in Milton, MA.
Clifford is the husband and father of a beautiful wife and fourteen year old child, who like his dad, also started playing clarinet in the fourth grade.