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.


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Khalil Shaheed Scholarship Fund 2019

Dear Friend of Oaktown Jazz Workshops,

It is thanks to you that we close out our 25th year as a thriving community based, non-profit organization for young musicians. At Oaktown Jazz, each young musician develops important skills that come with learning a musical instrument and playing in an ensemble. The self-discipline a child develops to practice, the ability to collaborate with others gained during rehearsals, and the courage strengthened by performing before a live audience are valuable tools that young people can apply for a lifetime.

With support from individuals like you, we are able to create a vibrant community for young musicians and their families. Our afterschool classes and workshops allow young people to learn to perform together, as a group, from professional musicians dedicated to helping youth develop their talents. Our Jazz Encounters program has brought in internationally touring musicians and multi-platinum and Grammy Award winning artists to speak and perform with our excited young musicians.

This past year, Oaktown Jazz Workshops’ youth ensembles performed at dozens of community events, our faculty led 70 presentations and sectionals at public schools, and we have been proud to produce monthly family-friendly concerts at our venue in Jack London Square.

To provide this uniquely dynamic musical education and experience to San Francisco Bay Area youth, we partner with local civic and arts organizations, and rely on support from dedicated community members like you. All contributions made to Oaktown Jazz Workshops go directly to performance education for young people who value it.

Our Founding Director, Khalil Shaheed, created Oaktown Jazz Workshops in 1994 with the mission of passing on the tradition of jazz music to youth in an authentic, supportive environment. Seven years ago we launched the Khalil Shaheed Scholarship Fund to cover the cost of our workshops for young musicians whose families could not otherwise afford tuition. This fund has been absolutely critical in supporting local young people seeking opportunities for creative expression and artistic development.

At this time, your contribution to this fund, in whatever amount you can manage, will encourage our children’s creativity, elevate music education and appreciation, and enrich our community. Thank you for your consideration.


Ravi Abcarian
Executive Director

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