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Jim Self: InnerPlay

Self surrounds himself with 44 of his closest jazz and studio friends, 26 of whom are a string section. His tuba has been featured on more than a thousand movie sound tracks and in hundreds of television shows. Self’s fluency astonishes on the instrument and the fluba, his own invention that’s a sort of thyroidal flugelhorn in the sonic range of the tuba.

Although his instruments may belong in the miscellaneous category in polls, Self’s playing does not. He solos with focus and purpose, as he demonstrates in a performance of “There Is No Greater Love,” which also features tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb. Guests include Gary Foster, Terry Trotter, Mike Lang, Tom Warrington, Dave Carpenter and other Los Angeles stalwarts. Brad Dechter’s arrangements provide natural-sounding blends of Self’s low instruments and the strings as well as piquant unison passages for tuba, strings and flute on “No More Blues.” Alto saxophonist Dan Higgins and Self share solo space on the leader’s “That Morning in May.” Self and Christlieb spar amusingly on Dechter’s “The Underdog Has Arisen,” which has a stirring bass solo by Carpenter and ends on Self’s D-flat, one note short of three octaves below middle C. This is an entertaining and musical album.

Originally Published