While at Harbor High School he participated in numerous honor bands, including the California High School All State Band his junior and senior years. A student of William Trimble throughout high school, he was a founding member of The Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra and recorded with steel guitar wizard Bob Brozman.
Shortly after his high school graduation he began journeying to the Los Angeles area to study clarinet, flute and saxophone with reknowned teacher Victor Morosco. At this same time he was introduced to master tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, who became not only a musical influence but an inspirational friend and mentor who influenced his ideas about jazz improvisation and much later his approach to teaching.
His musical studies soon took him to San Francisco State University where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Clarinet Performance, studying there with Don Carroll of the San Francisco Symphony. There he sought out and studied saxophone privately with tenor greats Larry Scheneider and Joe Henderson, and participated in a recording with the now forgotten San Francisco band Erik Walker and the Horn Moans.
Upon graduation he left San Franciso for New York City and earned a Masters Degree in Clarinet Performance at the Mannes College of Music, studying there with New York Philharmonic clarinetist Peter Simenauer.
Since his return to the Bay Area in 1993 he has recorded with Undercover S.K.A. of San Francisco, with pianist Karen Salveson of Palo Alto, with childrens singer Linda Arnold, and with Gary Regina on his American Landscapes recording. He has performed extensively with The Cabrillo Music Festival Orchestra, the San Jose, Monterey, Santa Cruz and California Symphonies, and gotten involved with Jewish traditional music with the East Bay groups Achi Ben Shalom and Adama, and performed with Tazdik recording artists Davka.
Mr. Sowlakis has released his first two solo recordings, 2000s Simple Beauty and the recently released Marking Time, on his own Pacific Winds label. He currently teaches clarinet and saxophone privately out of his Santa Cruz home and at the Robert Louis Stevenson private high school in Pebble Beach, CA.