San Francisco Bay Area based composer and jazz bassist, Ravi Abcarian, started learning guitar at the age of seven and began playing bass when his high school jazz band director challenged him to switch from electric guitar to upright bass.

Ravi went on to join the house band for a weekly jam session at famed jazz venue, Yoshi’s Oakland. There, he met and began working with many of the Bay Area’s great musicians, including Faye Carol, Edwin Kelly, and Smiley Winters. By his mid-twenties he was busy performing a wide range of gigs from small clubs and cafés in Oakland and San Francisco to regional jazz festivals.

In 1997 Ravi was invited to join the Oakland, CA based nonprofit organization, Oaktown Jazz Workshops (OJW), as a bass instructor by Founding Director, Khalil Shaheed. Shortly after, Ravi was promoted to the position of Educational Director.  In 2011, Ravi was appointed Executive Director of OJW by Mr. Shaheed and the OJW Board of Directors.

Ravi has more than 20 years of teaching experience through his role as the Artistic Director of “The Richmond Jazz Collective,” a resident company at The East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond, CA where he taught from 1993 to 2013, as a school music teacher for grades K-12, and teaching individual bass and guitar lessons at his home studio. He also enjoys working as a sideman, as is evidenced by his extensive experience accompanying artists ranging from legendary tap dancer Fayard Nicholas (of the Nicholas Brothers) and vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock to tenor saxophonists Chico Freeman, Joshua Redman and Sonny Simmons.


Recent Posts

Rest In Peace Victor McElhaney

Photo by Michelle Carson-Flynn, Courtesy of The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

The senseless killing of 21 year old Victor McElhaney has shocked and saddened our musical community. Victor was a remarkable musician, student, and role model for many young people. He was recently shot and killed in an attempted robbery near University of Southern California where he was enrolled in the jazz studies program.

A native of Oakland, CA, Victor’s musical ability was nurtured by his parents, Clarence McElhaney and Lynette Gibson McElhaney, at an early age. He grew up in the East Bay’s vibrant musical community studying drumming with instructors Tacuma King and E.W. Wainwright as well as participating in programs at The Oakland Public Conservatory and The East Bay Center for Performing Arts.

When I was the Artistic Director of the Richmond Jazz Collective at The East Bay Center for Performing Arts I had the pleasure of teaching Victor as a part of our performance group. Last summer I was proud to work with him on a professional gig. During our ride home from the performance, Victor, Band Leader Geechi Taylor, and I talked about the recent release of Oakland-themed movies. Victor was very excited about the international recognition Oakland was receiving in film and stated that he was confident that soon Oakland would be recognized for its innovative, vibrant, and beautiful music scene. Let’s all continue to work together as a community to prove Victor McElhaney right.


Ravi Abcarian
Executive Director

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