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 former 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

Dear friend of Oaktown Jazz Workshops (OJW),

Thank you for supporting year-round, community-based music education for youth. This past summer we resumed our in-person classes, workshops, and concerts at our venue and began performing at community events around Oakland, CA. It has been rewarding to see returning OJW members rekindle their friendships with each other through music and exciting for us to welcome new musicians to our program!

After months of engaging our young musicians online with weekly listening assignments and live Zoom discussions during the shelter-in-place, we saw the need to deepen our support of students by offering one-on-one instruction and expanding our program to include an audio engineering class, which will start in spring of 2022.

Centrally located in Jack London Square, the workshops and classes we offer bring children together from Oakland’s neighborhoods and nearby cities to learn in a safe and supportive environment, complete with high-quality instruments and musical equipment. Most of OJW’s students participate in our program for over two years, giving our faculty the opportunity to get to know the young musicians’ strengths and achievements, and provide personalized guidance as they progress. Our dedicated instructors work together collaboratively to share their many decades of experience as professional musicians with students. 

OJW’s faculty also features alumni Youth Mentors that co-teach workshops with our instructors and serve as role models. Many alumni that now live elsewhere make a point to visit Oaktown Jazz Workshops when they return to the Bay Area and help to connect current students with future academic and professional possibilities.

Offering a music program that young musicians consistently find inspiring and authentic would not be possible without the support of individual community members. Nine 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. Your contribution to this fund will encourage our children’s creativity, elevate music education and appreciation, and enrich our community.

Thank you for considering us for a year-end donation.


Ravi Abcarian
Executive Director

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