Trained as a classical pianist, Wisner known admiringly as “The Wiz,” has gone on to become one of the most sought after professionals on the creative side of the music industry. He’s been involved in more than 100 hit records as either producer, arranger, writer or artist with cumulative sales of releases in which he has participated estimated at well over 150 million worldwide. Jimmy wrote “Don’t Throw Your Love Away,” a #1 hit for The Searchers in the UK in 1964, on the heels of the success of “Somewhere,” a song he had written for Cameo Parkway labelmates The Tymes the previous year. In the intervening years he’s earned 36 Gold and 22 Platinum awards for his work with a panoply of major “name” artists including Nat Adderley, Len Barry, Tony Bennett, Freddy Cannon (that’s Wisner playing the organ on “Palisades Park”), Roberto Carlos, Judy Collins, Paul Evans, Tommy James & The Shondells, Al Kooper, Miriam Makeba, Herbie Mann, Iggy Pop, Neil Sedaka, Carly Simon, Nina Simone, Spanky & Our Gang, Barbra Streisand, Randy and the Rainbow and even Brigitte Bardot, among many, many others. There was a week in November of 1967 when Wisner was represented on the Billboard chart by 7 hits (all with bullets), on the Top 100 over a range of artists and genres.
Before emerging as a recording studio triple threat, Wisner headed a jazz trio that was well known on the club circuit in his native Philadelphia during the late 50s and early 60s. The Jimmy Wisner Trio accompanied Mel Tormé, Carmen McRae, Dakota Staton and the Hi-Lo’s on live dates when they toured extensively with appearances in New York and Europe and at the Newport Jazz Festival, releasing albums of their own and recording the classic Mel Tormé at the Red Hill.
In 1961 Wisner entered the world of pop music, under the nom de plume “Kokomo” for concern of tarnishing his sterling reputation in jazz, with the release of the exotic honky tonk flavored “Asia Minor,” a worldwide instrumental smash single that hit the Top 10 in the US.
Jimmy “The Wiz” Wisner’s behind-the-scenes career in music blossomed even further when he joined Columbia Records as the label’s head of A&R. He went on to work on hundreds of TV shows, films and commercials, arranging the music heard in Mr. Holland’s Opus and Dumb and Dumber among many others. To date, over 250 of his compositions have been recorded and released, he has been a four-term governor on the board of the New York Chapter of NARAS and was Creative Media Advisor for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.