Jeff Wichmann



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. 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 byTokyo 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 the trumpet player and keyboardist with the rock band TENKI who has recorded 5 studio albums. Their latest and last album “Tenki Is Doomed” was released in 2013. He’s also currently performing withEnvironmental 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.

He’s collaborated and performed with pianist Rei Hotoda, composer/saxophonist Gene Coleman, kotoists Jesse Evans, Curt Patterson and Shoko Hikage, string telephone wizard Kazue Mizushima,and recorded with The Earth Is A Man, Track A Tiger, Robot USA/Jeff Konrad, The Demilos, and The Multiple Cat.

River Cities Reader
Quad City Times
Center Stage Interview

Japan Artist Information Directory
Steppenwolf Theater


“Ahhhhh!!!!!” – Solo Koto/Trumpet album – 2012
“Flood” – Contemporary Koto solos and duets recorded with Dr. Jesse Evans – 2001

“Bunny 12” –  2012 – (Trumpet and producer of album)

“Tenki Is Doomed” – 2013
“We’re Not Talking About The Universe, Are We #2” – 2007
“We’re Not Talking About The Universe, Are We #1” – 2006
“Tenki – Live At Schubas” – 2006
“View Of An Orbiting Man” – 2003
“Red Baby” – 2002

“Shadow Boxing” – Konrad – 2012
“The Earth Is a Man” –  The Earth Is A Man – 2011
“Peaking Through the High Hats” – The Demilos, 2008
“We Moved Like Ghosts” – Track a Tiger, 2007
“The Secret Of The Secret Of The Multiple Cat” – The Multiple Cat, 2006
“Robot USA” – Robot USA/Jeff Konrad,1999



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