Sean McGowan is a fingerstyle jazz guitarist who combines many diverse musical influences with unconventional techniques to create a broad palette of textures within his compositions and arrangements for solo guitar. His first recording, River Coffee won the Best Independent Release of the Year Award (2002) from Acoustic Guitar magazine and music from the recording has been featured on BBC’s “Great Guitars” radio program, Maine Public Radio, and has been published in Japan’s Acoustic Guitar magazine and Mel Bay’s Master Anthology of Fingerstyle Guitar, Vol. 3 (2005). His recordings Indigo (2008) and Sphere: the Music of Thelonious Monk (2011) offer compelling portraits of classic jazz standards performed on solo electric archtop guitar. Sphere was named one of Acoustic Guitar magazine’s “Essential Albums of 2011”. As a soloist, Sean has performed at several festivals including the Novi Sad International Jazz Festival in Serbia, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival in Napa Valley, Copper Mountain Guitar Town, the Newport Guitar Festival, and the Classic American Guitar Show in New York. He has also collaborated with several dance and improv companies, as well as with jazz and acoustic musicians throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
Sean is an avid arts educator and currently serves as an assistant professor of music and the Guitar Program Director at the University of Colorado Denver. He earned a DMA in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and has conducted jazz guitar workshops at Berklee College, Bowdoin College, USC, University of Maine, University of Oregon, McNally Smith College, String Letter Music School in San Anselmo, and for the Seattle Jazz Guitar Society and Cheyenne Guitar Society. He has also presented and performed at the Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans, the International Symposium for the Performing Arts Medicine Association in Aspen, CO, and numerous College Music Society national and regional conferences. Sean is a strong advocate for injury prevention and health education for musicians, and his workshops incorporate a holistic approach to playing. He is also a contributing editor and educational advisor for Acoustic Guitar magazine. His latest book/DVD instructional project is Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials (String Letter/Hal Leonard), and will be available Summer 2012.


“Sean McGowan is the most promising young solo guitarist I have ever heard. His first CD, River Coffee, paints a broad, beautiful picture of his enormous virtuosity, unrelenting musicality, playful sense of humor and remarkable knowledge of musical history. Guitarists will weep yet laugh with delight as they try to figure out what he is doing, and history will remember Sean as one of the most important guitarists of his generation.”
Tuck Andress of Tuck & Patti

“Few pleasures equal that of watching a gifted musician hit the track and just sail on out there. You’ll hear a lot of tradition in Sean McGowan’s guitar: Christian, Burrell, Farlow, Pass. You’ll also hear the sound of a musician finding the groove…his groove.”
James Sallis, author of
The Guitar Players: One Instrument and Its Masters in American Music

“Really stunning…a non-guitarist will never realize just how much is going on, but we guitarists will constantly ask ourselves, ‘How did he do that?’”
Just Jazz Guitar magazine

“Though he is not a household name in the guitar world, he definitely deserves to be. His sense of harmony and amazing technique are world class - he is an inspiration to any serious guitarist.”
Fingerstyle Guitar magazine

“Playing the blues, standards or bebop anthems, fiery 16th note lines or suspended harmonic constructs, Sean McGowan has found his niche amongst the best jazz guitar soloists.”
All About Jazz

“An emerging artist of considerable depth…”
Acoustic Guitar magazine