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Jim Self: Close Encounters With the Fluba

Jim Self
Jim Self

How can you not love a jazz and classical tuba virtuoso who comes up with a red, white and blue CD called My America (Basset Hound) that contains tracks with these titles: “Bill Bailey, Please Call Your Service,” “Sousa, Phone Home” and “Pennsylvania 6-5000 Polka,” a clever intermarriage of that polka from Self’s home state and the Glenn Miller hit). There’s also “Turkey in the Straw,” which interpolates Gershwin, Copland, John Williams, Brubeck and the 20th Century Fox fanfare, and “Juba Plays the Fluba in Aruba,” a salute to the 1931 fossil “When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba,” plus 10 other tracks with straightahead American titles.

In those first five titles, you gain insight into the duality of Jim Self. Simply put, he’s a swinging patriot. He loves this country with a pride others may label corny, but Jim is not afraid to quote “America the Beautiful” citing its “amber waves of grain” or “purple mountain’s majesty,” explaining how he loves to fly his own Piper Arrow to his occasional far-flung musical gigs. Truth to tell, most of his performances don’t require anything more elaborate than a few miles of ground transportation to the Hollywood studios: since 1974 Self has graced over 1,100 movie soundtracks plus hundreds of TV shows and recordings. Self also plays regularly for the L. A. Opera and he teaches tuba and chamber music at University of Southern California, where he earned his doctorate of musical arts.

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