Ron Kalina, harmonica, and Jim Self, tuba – The Odd Couple – Basset Hound Records

by | Jul 24, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Ron Kalina, harmonica, and Jim Self, tuba – The Odd Couple – Basset Hound Records 110, 55:17 *****:

(with Larry Koonse, elec. & acoustic guitars; Tom Warrington, doublebass; Joe La Barbera, drums)

I’ve always been drawn to unusual combinations and instruments in jazz, and have enjoyed both harmonicists and tubaists separately. However, this is probably the first duo of harmonica and tuba.  The liner note writer admits that when he first heard of it he felt it “gotta sound like something just this side of a root canal.”  But after exposure to the interaction and creativity of Self and Kalina he changed his mind 180 degrees.  This is not the first such recording by the duo – they did it originally back in l983 – a disc titled Children At Play.

Both are busy musicians in the LA area – Self having played on well over 1400 different movie soundtracks, including the sounds of the Mother Ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Each of the players has one of their original tunes among the 11 tracks, and the others include two Charlie Parker originals – a tribute to Self’s bravery in negotiating those rapid note-spinnings on the tuba.  In fact all the selections point up the amazing virtuosity of both performers, who never let the limitations of their chosen instruments slow them down in the least.  Michel Legrand’s You Must Believe in Spring even includes some lovely Bachian counterpoint between the two instruments. On some tracks Self plays his self-designed Fluba, which is a cross between a Flugelhorn and a tuba – the big bell jutting out in front instead of being vertical. This disc is a complete delight – I guarantee you won’t have a hangdog visage after listening to it!

TrackList: No More Mr. Nice Guy, The Odd Couple, The Dolphin, Friends Again, Stolen Moments, To Monica, I’m All Smiles, Confirmation, Someone to Light Up My Life, You Must Believe in Spring, Donna Lee.

 – John Henry

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