Jim Self, jazz tuba & fluba – “Inner Play” (with Gary
Foster, sax; Peter Christlieb; sax; Dan Higgins, alto; Terry
Trotter/Tom Ranier, piano; Tom Warrington/Dave Carpenter/ Ken Wild,
drums; Guest artists: Steve Houghton, Steve Schaeffer, Ralph Humphrey;
The Jay Rosen Strings; Gayle Levant, harp) – Basset Hound Records BHR
109-2, 64:37 ****:

Jim Self is a Hollywood studio musician in great demand as a tuba
player – and for his recent invention of the fluba – a combination of
the tuba with the Fluegelhorn. Remember the five low galactic notes
that came from the giant mothership in Close Encounters?  That was
Self!  He’s been called one of the most versatile instrumental
musicians on the international music scene today. I’ve always been a
pushover for jazz on odd instruments, and still have an old LP of Self
in a quartet setting.  Here he is again, but with plenty of
reinforcements.  He brought together some of his skilled studio
musician friends plus an entire string section, and then he engaged
movie soundtrack orchestrator Brad Dechter to handle all the
arrangements. Dechter was a protégé of Marty Paich and is influenced by
Gil Evans, Nelson Riddle and Bill Holman. The result is an elegant
session of ten tunes for jazz tuba and strings.

Jim says in his note booklet page that his axe is often caricatured as
a loud, comical and ponderous instrument. He likes to think of it also
as soft, sensitive, fluent and classy. The setting with a rhythm
section, some great saxophonists, and a string section is his way of
exploring those qualities. Self also dedicates his CD to a number of
musicians who encouraged him to play jazz tuba and to write
music.  Among them are Don Ellis, Red Callender, Jon Hendricks and
Mel Torme. The choice of tunes is superb – only one each from Self and
Dechter, with Horace Silver, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gershwin, Herbie
Hancock and Clare Fischer among the contributors. Don’t confuse this
disc with your usual sax & strings session; it’s so much more – not
an offbeat gimmick by any shot!  You’ll probably have a whole
different impression of the tuba after hearing this album.

Tracks: Speak Like a Child, There is No Greater Love, Pensativa, I
Loves You Porgy/Bess You Is My Woman, Cipriana, That Morning in May,
The Underdog Has Arisen, No More Blues, Strollin,’ Do You Know What It
Means to Miss New Orleans?

– John Henry