Executive Director of the Brubeck Institute, and newly appointed executive director of the Roots, Jazz and American Music (RJAM) 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, Rowe has played with many greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Leibman, Tim Hagens, John Fedchock, Mulgrew Miller, Jimmy Heath, Stephanie Nakasian, Lucia Newell, Debbie Duncan, Willie Akins, Jeanne Trevor, Bob Mintzer, Luqman Hamza, Marvin Stamm, Dianne Schurr and Claudio Roditi. In his first year as Executive Director, Rowe established a new Brubeck Degree Track (at the University of the Pacific), created an innovative jazz club (Take 5) through a private/public partnership and is developing local, national and international coalitions to forward the mission of the Institute.
In 1997, Dr. Rowe founded “Catalyst Productions”, a record label dedicated to documenting and championing the work of some of the Midwest’s most outstanding jazz artists. To date he has played on and produced four national releases for Catalyst, featuring St. Louis’ Willie Akins and Jeanne Trevor and Kansas City’s Luqman Hamza . The CD, “Flamingo”, features the work of his Indianapolis-based trio and his 2007 release “Live at The Hodo” features his current group. As a native Australian, Dr. Rowe has strong international ties, in his homeland and as far afield as Torino Italy, where he performed as musical director for esteemed St. Louis vocalist Jeanne Trevor. Having studied at Northwestern University and the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, Dr. Rowe completed his undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies at Eastern Illinois University. Moving to the St. Louis area, he completed his Masters work at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and has recently completed a Doctorate at the University Of Illinois.
“My passion for arts education is fueled by the same fire which inspires me to pursue a life-long journey towards artistry as a jazz performer. As a young musician I left Sydney, having studied the trumpet for four years with Peter Walmsley of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, to attend the ‘High School for the Performing and Visual Arts’ in Houston, Texas. Under the purview of esteemed jazz educator Dr Robert Morgan, this utopian arts education environment, which balanced inspiration with industry, set the standard by which I would judge all schools of the arts. Since then, straddling the Pacific I have had the good fortune to work with mentors from Chicago to Sydney to St. Louis to Bloomington, Indiana. In Bloomington, the most profound learning of my musical journey occurred under world-renowned trumpet pedagogue William Adam. I was also fortunate to develop an association with Distinguished Professor David Baker. For several years, I worked to acquire the nuances of the musical process. Over time, I gained a sense of the insight, patience and methodology embodied in fine teaching. As a result I have had some success with my students to the point that colleagues from neighboring universities are seeking my professional help as they aspire towards higher levels of jazz performance.
As director of the record label Catalyst Productions, I forged relationships with elder statesmen of the jazz community in St Louis and Kansas City. Beginning as an apprentice with esteemed saxophonist Willie Akins, I sought to document his music, first seeking public grant funding and then private funding through the record label Catalyst Productions. I worked with grass-roots organizations such as the “Crusaders for Jazz” and the historic ‘Sheldon Concert Hall’ to champion the careers not only of Willie Akins, but also of revered vocalists Jeanne Trevor and Luqman Hamza of St Louis and Kansas City respectively. Our label garnered respect from musicians and critics across the USA, most notably Nat Hentoff (of the New York Village Voice) who chose to contribute liner notes for the 2001 release ‘Flamingo’.
Moving into the university world, I endeavored to maintain a spirit of mission and collaboration. Music departments world-wide are confronting the challenges of maintaining fresh and innovative approaches to music education without sacrificing the fundamentals of strong musical pedagogy.
In my international travels, I have had the opportunity to practice and teach my art in many fertile cultural environments. Through my apprenticeships with numerous mentors, I have become aware that such fertile environments are the result of artists choosing to pursue their art and engage community wherever they may be. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to continue to pursue a life of jazz and jazz education wherever I might land, by seeking out and collaborating with like-minds and by nurturing younger minds.”