Jim Self

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Jim Self
James Martin Self

(1943-08-20) August 20, 1943 (age 79)
Franklin, Pennsylvania, U.S.
EducationIndiana State College (B.S., 1965)
Catholic University of America (M.M., 1972)
University of Southern California (D.M.A., 1976)
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Musical career
  • Classical
  • film score
  • rock and roll
  • jazz
  • pop
Years active1965–present

James Martin Self (born August 20, 1943) is an American tubist and composer from Los Angeles. Self has performed extensively in Los Angeles and internationally as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral tubist, and, most notably, as a studio musician in the Los Angeles movie studios having appeared on over 1500 soundtracks. He is also known for his association with the Pasadena Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, the Los Angeles Opera and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Childhood, education, and early career[edit]

James Martin Self was born on August 20, 1943, in Franklin, Pennsylvania, the third youngest of four siblings born to Helen Louise (née Martin, 1907–1980)[1] and James Warren "Pete" Self (1906–1959),[2] and grew up in neighboring Oil City, Pennsylvania. His father, James, worked as an assistant production manager at the Worthington Corporation and was a softball and baseball player.[2] His mother, Helen, was a member of his hometown's First Baptist Church.[1] His older brother, William, worked as an electrical engineer.[3]

After graduating from Oil City High School in 1961, Self went to Indiana State College (now known as Indiana University of Pennsylvania). He studied under trumpeter William Becker,[4] whom he considered a "a father figure and a kind of soul mate".[5] In 1965, he earned his bachelor's degree in music education.[6]

After graduation, Self joined the United States Army Band. The concert band tuba section included Leo Hurst, Bob Pallansch, Dan Perantoni, Chester Schmitz, and Paul Scott. During his time with the US Army Band, Self earned a Master of Music in Tuba Performance from Catholic University of America and studied with Harvey Phillips.

Self left the Army Band in 1967. He was offered the position of Assistant Professor of Tuba and the University of Tennessee in 1969.

In 1971, while still working at the University of Tennessee, Self began working on a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Southern California. At USC he studied under Tommy Johnson.[7]

Los Angeles[edit]

Studio career[edit]

Self has performed on the Los Angeles studios since 1974. In this time he has recorded over 1500 soundtracks for motion pictures and television.[8] One of Self's most notable soundtrack credits is his performance on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. His performance was featured as the "voice of the mothership." Self can be heard as a soloist in such films as Jurassic Park, Home Alone I&II, Casper, Batteries Not Included, Sleepless in Seattle, and Dennis the Menace. Jim Self has been the first call tubist for such notable film composers as John Williams, James Newton Howard, John Debney and James Horner.[9] In recent years, he performed on John Williams' scores for The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker.[10] Self often doubles on cimbasso for soundtrack work, particularly since the late 1990s.[11]

Orchestral performances[edit]

Jim Self holds principal tuba positions with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (1991–present), Pasadena Symphony (1975-present), Pacific Symphony (1986–present),[12] Los Angeles Opera (1986–present),[13] and Opera Pacific (1987-2008). In his opera orchestra performances he plays the cimbasso when required. Self is also a frequent substitute tubist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.[14]


Jim Self has taught at the University of Southern California since 1976. At USC Self teaches tuba and coaches brass chamber music.[15] Self taught at the University of Tennessee from 1969-1975. He has also taught at such festivals as Music Academy of the West and the Henry Mancini Institute.


Self has published over 90 solo, chamber, and symphonic works.[16] In 2008 the Pacific Symphony performed his composition, Tour de Force: Episodes for Orchestra.[17] The 13 minute work has also been transcribed for wind ensemble and was co-premiered by the USC Thornton Wind Ensemble under the direction of H. Robert Reynolds and the IUP Wind Ensemble under the direction of Jack Stamp.[18]


Harvey Phillips Award (ITEA), 2010

Roger Bobo Award for Excellence in Recording (ITEA), 2008 - InnerPlay[19]

Lifetime Achievement Award (ITEA), 2008[20][21]

Distinguished Alumni Award, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2003[22]

Most Valuable Player Award (Tuba), National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987[23]

President, International Tuba Euphonium Association, 1979-1981[24]

Solo/chamber/jazz discography[edit]

Disc title Year of release Genre Contributing artists
Children at Play 1983 Jazz
  • Jon Kurnick, Guitar
  • Ernie McDaniel, Bass
  • Harold Mason, Drums
New Stuff 1988 Jazz
  • Jon Kurnick, Guitar
  • Ernie McDaniel, Bass
  • Harold Mason, Drums
Tricky Lix 1991 Jazz
  • Gary Foster, Alto Sax
  • Warren Luening. Trumpet
  • Bill Booth, Trombone
  • Jon Kurnick, Guitar
  • Joel Hamilton, Bass
  • Alan Estes, Drums
Changing Colors 1995 Classical

Terry Trotter, Piano

The Basset Hound Blues 1997 Jazz
The Big Stretch 1999 Classical
My America 2003 Americana
  • Burnette Dillon, Trumpet
  • Bill Booth, Trombone
  • Gary Foster, Clarinet and Saxes
  • Mike Lang, Piano
  • Tim May, Banjos and Guitars
  • Dave Carpenter, Basses
  • Bernie Dresel, Drums
  • Joel Derouin, Violin
  • Armen Ksadjikian, Cello
  • Kim Scharnberg, Synthesizer
  • Brian Kilgore, Percussion
  • Chuck Niles, Narration
Size Matters 2003 Jazz
  • Bill Scarlett, Tenor Sax
  • Bill Swann, Piano
  • Taylor Coker, String Bass
  • Daryll Johnson, Drums
Inner Play 2005 Jazz
The Odd Couple 2008 Jazz
  • Ron Kalina, Harmonica
  • Larry Koonse, Guitar
  • Tom Warrington, Bass
  • Joe La Barbera, Drums
Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra 2012 Classical/Jazz
'Tis the Season TUBA Jolly 2013 Christmas
  • Norm Pearson, tuba
  • Doug Tornquist, tuba
  • Dave Holben, tuba
  • Beth Mitchell, tuba
  • Scott Sutherland, tuba
  • Chuck Koontz, tuba
  • Blake Cooper, tuba
  • Steve Klein, tuba
  • Gary Hickman, tuba
  • Fred Greene, tuba
  • Alan Kaplan, euphonium
  • Alex Iles, euphonium
  • Bill Booth, euphonium
  • Bill Reichenbach, euphonium
  • Phil Keen, euphonium
  • James Miller, euphonium
  • Don Sawday, euphonium
  • Ken Kugler, euphonium
  • Brian Kilgore, percussion
  • Bernie Dresel, drums
Flying Circus 2015 Classical
  • Barry Perkins, trumpet
  • Tony Ellis, trumpet
  • Rob Frear, trumpet
  • Dave Wailes, trumpet
  • Daniel Rosenboom, trumpet
  • Marissa Benedict, trumpet
  • Malcom McNab, trumpet
  • John Lewis, trumpet
  • Keith Popejoy, horn
  • Jim Taylor, horn
  • Dylan Hart, horn
  • David Duke, horn
  • Mike Hoffman, trombone
  • Dave Stetson, trombone
  • Steve Suminski, trombone
  • Bill Booth, trombone
  • Doug Tornquist, tuba
  • Todd Miller, conductor
YO 2016 Latin Jazz
  • Ron Blake, flugelhorn and trumpet
  • Rob Hardt, flute and saxes
  • Francisco Torres, trombone
  • Andy Langham, piano
  • Rene Camacho, bass
  • Joey de Leon, bata, shekere, and timbales
  • Giancarlo Anderson, congas
  • George Ortiz, bongos
Floating in Winter 2017 Jazz
  • John Chiodini, guitar
Out on the Coast 2020 Jazz
  • David Angel, tenor sax and conducting
  • Phil Feather, saxes and flutes
  • Gene Cipriano “Cip”, saxes and clarinet
  • Jim Quam, tenor sax and clarinet
  • Tom Peterson, tenor sax and flutes
  • Bob Carr, baritone sax and bass clarinet
  • Jonathan Dane, trumpet and flugel horn
  • Ron Stout, trumpet and flugel horn
  • Stephanie O’Keefe, horn
  • Scott Whitfield, trombone
  • John Chiodini, jazz guitar
  • Susan Quam, string bass
  • Paul Kreibich, drums
The Light Fantastic 2020 Jazz
  • John Chiodini, guitar
Hangin' Out 2022 Jazz
  • John Chiodini, guitar
My America 2: Destinations 2022 Jazz
  • Kim Scharnberg, conductor
  • Ron Stout, trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Bill Booth, trombone and euphonium
  • Scott Whitfield, trombone
  • Phil Feather, alto saxophone and English horn
  • Tom Peterson, saxophones
  • John Chiodini, guitars
  • Steve Fister, guitars
  • Bill Cunliffe, piano and melodica
  • Ken Wild, basses
  • Kendall Kay, drums
  • Brian Kilgore, percussion


  1. ^ a b "Self". The Titusville Herald. March 1, 1980. p. 5.
  2. ^ a b "J.W. Self Dies in Cleveland". The Derrick. March 3, 1959. p. 3.
  3. ^ "William Russell "Bill" Self, Sr". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 15, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  4. ^ "Dr. William R. Becker". The Indiana Gazette. July 19, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  5. ^ Self, Jim (July 19, 2018). "William Becker: A Eulogy". Basset Hound Music. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  6. ^ Nowicke, Carole (October 2001). "International Tuba-Euphonium Association Oral History Project: Oral History Interview of Dr. James M. Self". ITEA Online. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  7. ^ Collins, Zach (2009). "Jim Self: A Fortunate Musician". ITEA Journal. Leader Printing. 36 (3): 34–52. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  8. ^ "The Usual Suspects Gio Washington-Wright's Top L.A. Studio Musicians Tribute Site". Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Jim Self Bio". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  10. ^ Caschetto, Maurizio. "L.A. Studio Legends: Jim Self". The Legacy of John Williams. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  11. ^ Kifer, Shelby Alan (May 2020). The Contrabass Trombone: Into the Twenty-First Century (DMA thesis). University of Iowa. doi:10.17077/etd.005304. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  12. ^ "Pacific Symphony:James Self". Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  13. ^ "LA Opera: James Self". Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Jim Self Official Website". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  15. ^ "USC Thornton School of Music Faculty Profiles: Jim Self". Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  16. ^ "Jim Self". Potenza Music. Potenza Music. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  17. ^ Timothy Mangan (16 April 2008). "Tuba dude takes the plunge as a composer". Orange County Register. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  18. ^ "USC Faculty Profile: Jim Self". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  19. ^ "Thornton School of Music Faculty Profiles: Jim Self". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  20. ^ Self, Jim. "Lifetime Achievement Award Speech" (PDF). Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  21. ^ "Yamaha Tuba Artist Jim Self Receives Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  22. ^ "Jim and Jamie Self Jazz Room to be Dedicated". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  23. ^ "World-Renowned Tubist Jim Self, His Amazing Fluba, And Expansive 'My America' CD". All About Jazz. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  24. ^ International Tuba Euphonium Association

External links[edit]