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

Dear Friend of Oaktown Jazz Workshops,

Thank you for supporting community-based jazz education in Oakland. As Oaktown Jazz Workshops (OJW) enters our 24th year, we continue to thrive – offering high quality music instruction to youth from across the San Francisco Bay Area. We are especially proud of our outstanding alumni who apply the collaborative skills gained through our program to positively engage in their communities and pursue meaningful careers. Over the past year, many of our alumni, now working as professional musicians, have returned to Oaktown Jazz to lead captivating concerts and make time to teach young musicians currently in our program.

With the shocking political climate and disheartening tone of today’s news, OJW’s programs are needed now more than ever. We put youth first, and our priority is making sure that young people have a safe space where their potential can be recognized and fostered.

OJW’s twice weekly, year-round Performance Ensemble workshops and recently added Jazz Improvisation class provide young musicians a supportive environment where they are mentored by a small group of instructors dedicated to helping youth develop their talents.

Our Founding Director, Khalil Shaheed, created OJW to pass down the language of jazz through the historically traditional method of mentorship, access to live concerts, and performance opportunities. In 2017, in addition to our 140 workshops, we presented 10 family friendly concerts and 20 OJW Youth Ensemble concerts, offered jazz encounter clinics with artists such as John Santos and The Lionel Hampton Big Band featuring Jason Marsalis, and held 47 music sectionals and presentations in East Bay public middle schools.

Five 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 Oaktown Jazz Workshops will allow us to continue to serve as a vibrant local community asset.

Your support, in whatever amount you can manage, will encourage our children’s creativity, elevate music education and appreciation, and enrich our community.


Ravi Abcarian
Executive Director

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  5. Richard Howell Quartet 5/27 Leave a reply
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