With 1100 film scores, hundreds of TV shows, and recordings with everyone from Mel Torme to Don Ellis, the award-winning multi-genre musicians own latest Basset Hound Records release is up for consideration in 15 Grammy categories
Jim Self is the most famous tubist you may or may not have ever heard of. Either way, you have definitely heard him. This Voice of the Mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind has a massive list of other accomplishments, as well, working on the upcoming film scores to Brother Bear and The Cat in the Hat. His mellifluous solos have added color and texture to Grammy winning composer John Williams scores for Jurassic Park, Home Alone, its sequel, and Hook, along with James Horner's Casper and Batteries Not Included, Marc Shaiman's Sleepless in Seattle, plus The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Chicago, Finding Nemo and Catch Me if You Can.
Self and his 13 tubas (most of them from Self-endorsed Yamaha) have performed in 1100 other film scores, hundreds of TV shows currently Enterprise and JAG and recorded with Mel Torme, Maynard Ferguson, Randy Newman, Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Don Ellis, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pasadena and Pacific Symphonies, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
NARAS conferred upon Self the Most Valuable Player Award for Tuba three times, but for this Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California where he teaches tuba and chamber music, where size really matters is in his FLUBA and his latest Basset Hound Records release, My America.
The FLUBA? Yes, the FLUBA; a Self-designed instrument thats actually a tuba-sized flugel horn that artisan Robb Stewart built from Yamaha parts two years ago. Peg, as Self calls the one-of-a-kind melody maker that rests on a monopod for ease of playing, is one of the instrument voices on the musically expansive My America.
Its imaginative selection of 17 tracks, arranged, conducted and produced by Kim Scharnberg (Laura Branigan, Linda Eder, Mark Isham), is a diverse landscape of genres, built on a solid foundation of jazz that resonates with the depth and breadth of the FLUBA itself. And to play jazz on a FLUBA or a tuba is an unusual achievement unto itself, as their very nature dictates contexts such as an orchestra or marching band. But just as Self-evident tunes Tennessee Waltz, Camptown Races, the Dean of Jazz DJs Chuck Niles-narrated Juba Plays the FLUBA in Aruba, and the others are completely unexpected, sophisticated and yes, often danceable, leave it to Self to eliminate long-established instrument boundaries, as well.
As to the wherefore and why of his FLUBA, Self explains, I wanted a solo instrument that would be a tuba players flugel horn, hence the FLUBA. It looks cool and it sounds great.
Self rounded up a cadre of jazz-oriented musicians to join him in America, where players such as pianist Michael Lang (Herb Alpert, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker), drummer Bernie Dresel (The Brian Setzer Orchestra), guitarist Tim May (Sarah Brightman, Rosemary Clooney, The Carpenters) violinist Joel Derouin (Harry Connick Jr., David Benoit, Christina Aguilera), and other greats explored country, blues, pop and classical elements.
A lot of the songs have improvised jazz solos, points out Self, whose My America is up for consideration in 15 Grammy categories, including Album of the Year and Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Bill Bailey, Please Call Your Service has jazz solos by everybody.
Its important to note that Juba Plays the FLUBA in Aruba may be the only Grammy-considered Song of the Year in NARAS history that features basset hounds on vocals, thanks to the harmonizing duet of Gus and Stanley Self.
Self is co-conducting the 28th annual TubaChristmas concert and sing-along, Dec. 7, in front of the Alex Theatre, Glendale, Calif., where 250 tubists and thousands of participating spectators will converge and commandeer Brand Boulevard, the citys main drag, for this unique holiday celebration. Self has organized the Los Angeles chapter of this national event since its inception in 1976.
This private pilot and basset hound lover has released six other albums, and just completed his latest instrument hybrid in which size still matters: a baby sousaphone called what else? the Selfone.