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.