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Growing up along the Jersey Shore, Tim Riddle had a built-in affinity for Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, but jazz and blues always took precedent in his musical heart. On a trip to Austin, Texas for a family vacation, he insisted on stopping by the memorial statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of his chief influences on the electric guitar. He also wore out the cassette of Robert Cray’s Strong Persuader. Riddle, now based in Tampa, Florida, also has fond childhood and teen memories of his guitar teacher and friend, Chuck Welch, telling him that if he wanted to be great, he had to learn jazz. Welch introduced him to the styles of jazz legends like Wes Montgomery and Tal Farlow, with whom Riddle later had a quirky encounter at a local convenience store. These rich jazz and blues vibes, along with Riddle’s crisp string style, infectious melodies, and inspiring improvisations, lay the foundation for Riddle’s dynamic, multi-faceted new independent release Between The Lines.
After studying guitar throughout his adolescence and teen years with Chuck Welch (still a friend 30 years after they met), Riddle briefly attended college at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina where he played in the jazz ensemble. Riddle gained studio experience at the University of Tampa when a professor allowed him access to one of the school’s recording facilities. After working for several years as an elementary music teacher at various schools in Pasco County, Riddle, in 2010, began his latest educational venture as a guitar instructor for the Florida Virtual School, an online public education program.
“I’ve always loved and played jazz and blues, and the tracks on Between the Lines truly capture all of my musical experiences up to this moment,” says Riddle. “It’s exciting for me to have the opportunity to play a variety of styles with veteran musicians who have worked with so many artists and legends I have been inspired by. The best part of the experience was taking our time and ultimately hearing these songs in my head come to life in a more powerful way than I ever could have imagined. Steve Jankowski’s production really takes my music to the next level.”
Riddle, a former corrections deputy and elementary school music teacher got his first taste of “stardom” in the jazz band at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina; he also opened one show for the larger ensemble with his own jazz and blues set. He got his feet wet in the industry doing booking for the artists on drummer Dan Weeks’ label Ratamacue Records. After going the straight route in his 20’s and working in law enforcement as a corrections deputy in Pasco County, Florida, he had an epiphany while on his honeymoon cruise out of Tampa. Inspired by the musicians on board and realizing he should get back to music, he applied and was accepted to the University of Tampa’s Music Program—as a clarinet player (his second instrument). He ultimately re-embraced the guitar and became the first chair in the university’s jazz band.
NOTABLE LIVE PERFORMANCES
The Brighton Bar – Long Branch, NJ
New American Theater – St. Petersburg, FL
Falk Theatre at Univ. of Tampa – Tampa, FL
Tampa Women’s League Fundraiser – Tampa, FL
WireGrass Mall (Dillard’s) – Wesley Chapel, FL
Toast Fine Wine & Cigar – Tampa, FL
Woodfired Pizza Wine Bar – Tampa, FL
Prime Bar (WireGrass Mall) – Wesley Chapel, FL
Barnie’s Coffee – Wesley Chapel, FL
Satchel’s Pizza – Gainesville, FL
Autism Awareness Walk – Wesley Chapel, FL
University of Tampa Jazz Ensemble – tours in Georgia & Florida
Season Three Episode 11 of “The Glades” extra (Filmed on Location in Miami, FL)
Finale “Brazilian Idol Kids” Audience member (Hollywood Studios Orlando, FL)
Between The Lines, Riddle’s fourth album, features all original material. The eight song collection was produced by longtime Blood, Sweat and Tears trumpeter and veteran engineer/producer Steve Jankowski at his state of the art New Jersey based facility Jankland Recording Studios. He assembled what Riddle calls a “dream lineup” of powerhouse veteran musicians, including James D. Pappas (touring keyboardist with Smokey Robinson), bassist Dave Anderson (Art Garfunkel, Blood, Sweat, and Tears), drummer Andrea Valentini, saxophonist Kenny Gioffre, Blues Hall of Fame member Rob Paparazzi on harmonica, Doug DeHays on flute, and Jankowski on trumpet and flugelhorn.
Riddle and his dream team burst out of the box with a bit of cool and soulful, easy swinging, horn spiced traditional jazz centered around the guitarist’s fluid melodic sound; fiery sax and trumpet solos then kick the big band flavored tune, “Beat Feet” into high gear. “Sunset Key”, a spirited tropical delight featuring Riddle’s duality with DeHays on lead flute lines and also featuring Riddle on snappy acoustic. It may remind listeners of George Benson’s landmark “Breezin.” He heads South for the stomping, funky blues of “Juleps and Jambalaya” (highlighted by Pappas’ sparkling piano improvisations), then shifts moods entirely for the brooding, slow burning blues ballad “Read Between The Lines” (the perfect showcase for Pappas’ deft organ playing). “Remember When” continues the down tempo mood but with a gentle jazz trio vibe, complete with lush, melodic guitar lines and a graceful piano harmony. Swinging right back up, Riddle leads his crew on a lively romp with an old school soul-jazz shimmer entitled, “Miles per Hour” with powerful solos by Pappas (organ), Gioffre (sax) and Valentini (drums). A wild breakdown duet between Gioffre and Valentini is a highlight. “What So” shows Riddle’s playful Montgomery influence as he engages in a colorful call and response pattern with a percussive brass section. The set wraps with the wild energy of the guitar driven blues funk fusion jam “Oh Yeah” – a musical exclamation point to a highly adventurous session.
Riddle also has three previous releases in his discography, which represent his evolving artistry. He recorded the 2005 standards album One Night In Red Bank (as The Tim Riddle Quartet) and That Christmas Feeling (2007) at Retromedia Sound Studio, followed by Luna Loca (2010), his first recording at Jankowski’s facility. In addition to establishing his artistic diversity, Luna Loca was a significant milestone in Riddle’s career because it was the first project featuring songs that he composed (in addition to featured spots by his former instructor Chuck Welch). An inspired time of further composing led Riddle—who self-produced his first three projects–to tap Jankowski to gather his top guns and produce Between The Lines.