1. Faculty

Simon Rowe

On Sabbatical

“What struck me about Simon Rowe’s playing when I first heard him as a sideman on a recording was that he had not only developed his own sound and conception, but that he also didn’t move in predictable directions. He has the pulse of jazz — the rhythm — and the drive to keep surprising himself.”

—Nat Hentoff


  • DMA, University of Illinois
  • MM, Southern Illinois University
  • BM, Eastern Illinois University


  • The Willie Akins Quartet, I Can See Clearly Now, 2012
  • The Simon Rowe Trio, Live at the Hodo, 2007
  • The Simon Rowe Trio, Flamingo, 2001


  • The Simon Rowe Latin Project
  • The Simon Rowe Trio

What is your hometown?

Sydney, Australia

What is your favorite recording?

It changes daily, but I love to listen to John Coltrane and Sonny Stitt on saxophone, vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, pianists Hank Jones and Bill Evans, trumpet players Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, and Chet Baker, and many others.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

The ways in which we form and sustain community… around music, art, education, social well-being etc.

Who were your major teachers?

William Adam (Indiana University) and Willie Akins (St. Louis saxophone icon).

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“The art of improvisation is to be completely present...in the moment.”

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“Can I live a life without music as my central focus?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

When I realized that music must be my life's central focus.

What was a turning point in your career?

I have had many… perhaps when I realized my role as a catalyst, on and off the stage.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

Helping to facilitate learning opportunities for young musicians and their mentors.

What is your daily practice routine?

To play from memory and by ear for at least 45 minutes every day.

From a music history perspective, what time and place is most important to you?

West Africa, 400 years ago.

What is your unrealized project?

To create one of the most unique and distinctive jazz education programs in the country and internationally.


Executive Director of the Roots, Jazz and American Music Program at the San Francisco Conservatory of
Music, Dr. Simon Rowe is a distinguished educator, entrepreneur, and artist in the jazz field. Along with
leading the Simon Rowe Trio and the Simon Rowe Latin Project, Rowe has played with many greats
including Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Akins and Jeanne Trevor. Rowe holds a doctorate of musical arts in
performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has held appointments in higher
education, including directing the leading music industry program in the Minnesota State University
system. From 2011 to 2016 Rowe served as the Executive Director of the Brubeck Institute where he
grew the annual Brubeck Festival into a city-wide event and created an innovative jazz club (Take 5)
through a private/public partnership while developing local, national and international coalitions to
forward the mission of the Institute. At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, in partnership with the
SFJAZZ Center, Rowe is now in year three of launching RJAM (Roots, Jazz and American Music) an
innovative new performance degree program.