Tour de Force


Ta Da Fanfare
Tail Spins
Tour de Force


Tour de Force

Brass Music of Jim Self
The River City Brass Band
James Gourley, Conductor
Jim’s Notes

I am known mostly for being a professional tuba player. Along with improvising jazz, composition has become a very important part of my musical life. I made a huge error in my career and wasted 30 years before I had the courage to compose music. I was nearly 50 years old when I began. Once I discovered that I had music “in my head” things took off and have composed about 100 works to date—many of the pieces have been brass chamber music including eight brass quintets. This CD presents three works for the full Brass Band and 4 chamber pieces.

The production of this CD is the culmination of several year’s work.

The title piece Tour de Force Episodes for Brass Bandis the most ambitious composition I have ever done. The original version was for symphony orchestra and was commissioned and premiered by the Pacific Symphony in 2008—shortly after the orchestra returned from it’s 1st European Tour. I subsequently wrote a Wind Band version

Then in 2022 I asked Gourlay and his River City Brass to record it the Brass Band version. About the same time I had done a brass band version of another of my large pieces Flying Circus. It was originally written in 2000 for the Pacific Brass Ensemble, a large brass choir of young Southern California professional brass players. It transcribed well for British Style Brass Band, so, in April 2022 I went to Pittsburgh where the James and the RCB recorded both pieces. They turned out so well that we decided to expand it into in entire CD of my music for brass. The other five works were recorded later in 2023.

I hope this CD will open up the brass and brass band worlds to my music. My stuff is “different” and “quirky” at times but always tonal or modal. Rhythm drives everything I write and I am fond of odd-meters. I am spoiled–having worked for 50 years in the Hollywood Studios and Orchestras for 50 years. I tend to write “up” to the level of my talented colleagues and find that players like the challenge. But ultimately I have found it to be enjoyable for both the performers and for audiences. For years I have kept a small music note book on my many jobs and when composers like John Williams in the movies or Benjamin Britten at the LA Opera wrote interesting stuff or orchestration I would write down those idea—and use them. Often this things get into my writing. “I steal from the best”! James Gourlay and The River City Brass accepted the challenge–and this recording demonstrates their immense talents. It is extremely gratifing to hear my music played so well.


Track Listing:
1. Ta Da Fanfare
2. Tail Spins
3. Tour de Force
4. Violin Concerto – Allegro moderato
5. Violin Concerto – Andante cantabile
6. Violin Concerto – Rondo
7. Contra-Dicitions – Oom Pas de Doux
8. Contra-Dicitions – Vis a Vis
9. Contra-Dicitions – Au Contraire
10. Scrambles
11. Flying Circus – Barnstorming
12. Flying Circus – Castle in the Sky
13. Flying Circus – Wingding