Jeff Wichmann is a licensed Japanese koto performer/teacher/composer and an accomplished trumpeter. He plays both the traditional 13-string koto and the 17-string
bass koto - of which he is the only performer of in the Midwest. He's been performing contemporary and traditional
music on the koto for 20+ years in local and international koto ensembles. He's collaborated with international instrumentalists,
composers, playwrights, dancers, junk-yard
sculpture artists, rock bands and poets.
He combines his two instruments,
creating "koto brass rock" featured in his first solo album called "Ahhhhh!!!!!"
Wichmann began studying the trumpet
at an early age but it wasn't until he attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois when he was introduced to the
koto by Dr. Jesse Evans. After graduating he moved to Tokyo to study traditional
and contemporary Japanese music under koto master Kazue Sawai and received
a koto license from the Sawai Koto Academy.
Over the years he's relied on both his western and eastern musical backgrounds
to transpose and adapt various western works to be performed on koto, including a new rendition of Puccini's "Madame
Butterfly", Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures", and other arrangements by Bach, The Beatles, Hendrix and Led
Zeppelin. In 2005-2007, he was the featured touring koto player in Chicago-based Steppenwolf
Theatre's production of Haruki Murakami's "After The Quake", directed by Tony award winner Frank Galati. 350 performances showed in Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego and New Haven.
He worked with cellist Jason McDermott and sound designer Andre Pluess to fuse rock/pop and classical western/Japanese genres
into a live score which ended up winning three annual critics choice awards in three cities for Best Original Score. In 2008 he was featured in the theatrical sound design for Steppenwolf's next production/adaptation of Murakami's
novel Kafka On The Shore.
In 2009, Wichmann collaborated with
experimental Japanese sound designer HAL (aka Yasuharu Ohkouchi) to create a soundscape that represents Tokyo in 2010. The 11+ minute piece was curated by Tokyo trend agency fivebyfifty to be used at the famous Paris fashion expo Pret a Porter. Tokyo street recordings were mixed with studio recordings of Wichmann in Chicago. Story here.
He is still performing and recording with the rock
band TENKI after 4 studio albums. Their 5th album is due out in 2012. He's also currently performing with Environmental Encroachment Magic Circus Band who became the focus of a documentary Louder Than Words surrounding the ever-growing Honk Fest in Boston. In 2012 he produced their first professional studio album - "Bunny XII" He's been a past performing member of Koto Phase, Spring Valley Koto Ensemble, Chusei Koto Ensemble, Group Otoko, JeffeJ, Sunday
Mind, Seaweed, and Brain Coral.
- Contemporary Koto solos and duets recorded with Dr. Jesse Evans - 2001
ENVIRONMENTAL ENCROACHMENT"Bunny 12" - 2012 - (Trumpet and producer of album)
GUEST ON OTHER ALBUMS