Jim Self…. Quotes from Reviews and Performances

Tour de Force—World Premier with the Pacific Symphony

The concert opened with the premiere of “Tour de Force (Episodes for Orchestra)” by the orchestra’s longtime principal tubist Jim Self, his first orchestral composition…Self has written a 13-minute work that takes joy in the athletic possibilities of the orchestra, and he finds time for a little blissed-out mellowness as well. …Call it action-packed.The language is jazzy…. Two quieter sections feature an unusual combination of harps, three alto flutes, flugelhorn and tuba, a sound worthy of Stravinsky. ..and the crowd enjoyed it. Mission accomplished

Timothy Mangan, Orange County Register 4/18/08

Cunliffe “Tuba Concerto”

Bill Cunliffe has produced what sounds like a very challenging and certainly a hugely entertaining and idiomatic concerto recorded now for the first time by one of the great living tubists, Jim Self. Self is also, without much question, the most listened-to tubist in history, having appeared so far in 1500 Hollywood films, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where in that unforgettable scene toward the very end, he becomes the voice of the alien mothership.

Joined by the Hollywood Ensemble, made up of some of the top Hollywood studio musicians, and conducted with obvious relish and understanding by the composer himself, it becomes something much more than a fascinating novelty. It’s a major contribution not only to this instrument’s repertoire, but also to the American concerto, itself. “

Jim Svejda, “The Record Shelf” KUSC-FM, 91.5, Los Angeles, Sept. 2, 2012.

Thank you so much for getting your wonderful Cunliffe album to me. What wonderful playing! You are in your element in this, jazz-wise. Nice highs and low sounds, too. Great orchestra parts, and well-played. (I saw that my colleague, Tim Morrison, was on this session). I am so proud of my army buddy — you have done so well! Congratulations, Jim.

Chester Schmitz, Retired Principal Tuba, Boston Symphony

“InnerPlay”…..Review Quotes

Jazz Times listed “InnerPlay” in the top 50 jazz CDs of 2005–by vote of their CD reviewers and writers.

“InnerPlay” was award the first Roger Bobo Award for Excellence in Recording (jazz) at the International Tuba-Euphonium Concference in Denver, June 2006.

Jim Self was given recognition as a “Rising Star” for tuba in the Downbeat Critic’s Poll. August 2006.


Although his instruments may belong in the miscellaneous category in polls, Self’s playing does not. He solos with focus and purpose….an entertaining and musical album.

Doug Ramsey, Jazz Times


Innerplay (is) an awesome combination of jazz tuba and strings, plus three of the best reed players in L.A.: Gary Foster, Pete Christlieb and Dan Higgins. With these musical greats, we have one of the finest projects ever recorded.

Ron Modell, The Instrumentalist


On “There Is No Greater Love,” Self rises above the strings with mellow buoyancy, articulating his solo with the ease of one who has complete mastery of his instrument.

Don Williamson, JazzReview.com


For those interested in imbibing a musical project with a very distinctive musical approach, this disc will exceed their musical sensibilities.

George W. Carroll/The Musicians’ Ombudsman


I’m tellin’ you folks, this recording (and Self’s playing, of course) is excellent! …..If you’re looking for a CD that will last (in your collection) for years to come… that you’ll never tire of hearing… this is IT! This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears, & we’re sure your ears will agree!

Dick Metcalf, Zzaj Productions & Improvijazzation Nation


Jim Self is on a mission to prove that the near forgotten tuba deserves a place in modern jazz music. In the opinion of this writer, he’s well on his way to proving his point……..It’s fine jazz!

Looking like a flugelhorn on steroids, the fluba is a most credible jazz axe.

This has to be the first “tuba with strings” jazz recording…straightahead modern mainstream jazz. Self’s interaction with the other horns is delightful–Recommended.

Scott Yanow, All Music Guide


Self gives himself over to music, soaring above the substantial orchestra with fleet, sweet phrases on a choice selection of standards. What a treat!

John Stevenson-Ejazznews.com


In fifty years or so, when some enthusiastic graduate student decides to write a dissertation on the history of “modern” jazz tuba playing, Jim Self’s album InnerPlay will be referred to as one of a handful of recordings that were truly revolutionary…..If you enjoy albums such as Charlie Parker with Strings, Chet Baker’s last great concert My Favourite Songs Vol. 1 & 2, and the numerous recordings featuring the work of arrangers such as Manny Albam, Marty Paich, Nelson Riddle, and Gil Evans, you are going to love this recording.…..an excellent and highly recommended album.

James E. Shearer, ITEA Journal


Self’s deep vibrations resonate with a comfortable aura that gives his session two thumbs up ……it works wonders on the soul.

Jim Santella, L.A. Jazz Scene


Self is a bop player with the highest credentials….The results are magic, even Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy,”…. remains a ballad of exquisite beauty.

Tom Ineck, Berman Music Foundation


Self is. in the vernacular, a mother….This is a must buy for tuba lovers.

David Dupont, Crescendo


Charming, Edifying, satisfying music….spending a weekend with this CD will smooth you out…Rare, but well done indeed.

Charlton Price. Jazz Ambassador Magazine


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.

John Henry, Audiophile Audition

QUOTES………..from other CD reviews.


About “My America”

Self is without a doubt one of the most versatile instrumental musicians on the international musical scene today. There simply isn’t any other name that comes to the fore when you factor in the ability to be completely successful and at home in everything from bebop jazz to symphonic masterpieces to esoteric solo repertoire…. If you would like to just sit back,

relax and simply enjoy some very wonderful entertaining creative musicians do their thing with some of Americas’ classics, then this disc is for you.

R. Winston Morris, T.U.B.A. Journal

About “The Basset Hound Blues”

All the works are incredible. I can’t stop listening to this CD. Jim Self continues to define our conceptions of the tuba in it’s multitude of roles. He is a tough act to follow..…

Mark Nelson, T.U.B.A. Journal


…one of a growing group of players helping to bring the instrument into a new era.

Rick Marx, Jazz Central


…unusual and memorable, this one leaves you wanting more… Ken Borgers, The Jazz Review

Jim’s CDs Basset Hound Blues and My America are an absolute must for every collection. What an inspiration they are for young tuba players to hear what is possible, both lyrically and technically on their instrument……

Ron Modell, The Instrumentalist


Other CDs

Self possesses an absolutely gorgeous tone

Wind Player


Children at Play…charmingly unconventional….4 stars,

Leonard Feather L.A. Times


Jim Self is an excellent tubist, equally accomplished in the jazz and classical worlds…..

James North, Fanfare


…true virtuosity and love of the tuba…

Marty Erickson, T.U.B.A. Journal


…his expertise on the tuba is quite remarkable…

Stan Woolley, New Note


…virtuostic, graceful and lyrical…

Tim Mangan, L.A. Times


This new recording (The Big Stretch) by Jim Self and friends is a marvel….a sonic delight. The performance is to be envied by all…. extraordinary and a marvel of control and dexterity. Jim is ever so great and a model for everyone.

Bart Cummings, T.U.B.A. Journal


The town is full of [great players] – like Vince De Rosa, Dick Perissi, Henry Sigismonti, Jim Self, Tommy Johnson. There aren’t any better players anywhere in the world. What a lesson to sit there every time you do a call and listen to these players!

George Roberts, Trombone Journal