“Spontaneity is key; to take a familiar song, improvise a fresh groove and adapt it, moment-by-moment, to the energy of a particular audience, with particular musicians, on a particular night—that is bliss.”

Jake Smolowe is a Bay Area pianist, piano teacher, composer and film scorer, currently based in San Francisco. He fell in love with jazz at a young age while attending the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and graduated from Stanford University in 2006 with a B.A. in Music with Honors in Composition. While at Stanford he led his own small combo and performed with the Stanford Jazz Orchestra. Jake values music education and loves sharing his knowledge of theory and harmony, jazz and other popular styles via private piano instruction and other formats. He has has been teaching privately throughout the Bay Area since 2005, and also has assisted SJW director Jim Nadel with his Stanford Continuing Studies Program jazz listening class for the past 13 years (2003-2015). Most recently Jake became an instructor for the SJW Giant Steps Big Band.


Jake has toured throughout the U.S. and Canada with several bands, including rock/Americana band Sioux City Kid, soul/R&B band Quinn Deveaux and the Blue Beat Revue, and internationally renowned blues harpist and vocalist John Németh. He appears as a contributing artist on Németh’s 2010 release, “Name The Day,” playing organ. He is currently a performing member of rock band Miles Read & The Trip, and also performs jazz gigs with saxophonist Jeff Derby and many others.


Jake is also a versatile composer and arranger, with influences ranging from Art Blakey to J.S. Bach, Brad Mehldau to Bilal, James Blake to Peter Apfelbaum and beyond. He has scored music for documentaries and animated short films, written for big band and solo piano, and contributed several originals to his various performing groups throughout his career. He does composition and arranging work for his own bands and by commission.