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** This recording is free to listen to and download. When downloading and prompted to enter a $ amount, please enter "0". You will then be invited to download the entire album and burn to CD if you like. If you decide to make a donation payment upon download (you certainly don't have to), all proceeds will go to Quad-Citians for the Prevention of Gun Violence whom Jesse Evans was a big advocate of.

All songs featured on this CD were recorded during the spring flood of 2001 in Davenport, Iowa. The Mississippi River had overflowed its banks and literally lapped up against the front door of Real Trax studio while these songs were recorded.

This is the only studio recording made with music professor Jesse Evans (1924-2013) playing koto. At the time, Evans was 78 years old. In the 1960s he received grants to study non-Western music in California, Hawaii and Japan using the koto as his main instrument. He founded the Cornell College (Iowa) Koto Ensemble in 1970 and the Augustana College Koto Ensemble in 1983. The Augustana ensemble performed at the Kyoto (Japan) International Music Festival in 1984. Dr. Evans performed at the Sawai Koto School in Tokyo and with the Kazue Sawai Koto Ensemble from Japan at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He founded the Chusei Koto Society, which performed for 25 years. He was named Iowa Music Educator of the Year in 1983.

Evans introduced the koto to Jeff Wichmann in 1987 while he attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. From Evans he learned classical and contemporary Japanese music before moving to Tokyo to study at the Sawai Koto Academy. He returned to Jesse Evan's home in the Quad Cities to record this album.

This recording features 20th Century compositions by famous Japanese composers like Tadao Sawai. These solos and duets are performed on the 13-string koto which, at times, is tuned to one of the many traditional 5-tone (pentatonic) scales. Koto music, like many of the Japanese arts, reflects the poetry of nature and continues to adapt and change with the world around it.

The Japanese koto first came to Japan from China and Korea in the 7th Century AD. Initially, the koto was found only in the Imperial Court Ensemble (Gagaku), but later took on a life of its own both in and out of court society. Since the early 17th Century, a considerable amount of music has been written for the koto. It is the national instrument of Japan and one of the most popular. It still evolves as an instrument used in classical, pop and experimental musical genres.


released December 4, 2013

Jesse Evans - Koto
Jeff Wichmann - Koto
Produced by Jeff Wichmann
Engineered by Rob Cimmarusti at Real Trax in Davenport, Iowa



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Jeff Wichmann Chicago, Illinois

Chicago musician Jeff Wichmann plays traditional and contemporary music on the Japanese koto. He studied at the Sawai Koto Academy in Tokyo.

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Track Name: 桜 Sakura (Cherry Blossom)
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
In fields and villages
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom.

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Across the spring sky,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come now,
Let's look, at last!

桜 桜
桜 桜

桜 桜
匂いぞ 出ずる
いざや いざや