“Oaktown Jazz Workshops was not only my first experience with jazz but the most important because it taught me there was no difference between the life a musician lived and the music they played.”

-Ambrose Akinmusire

“OJW was undoubtedly one of the most formative experiences of my life. The experience, playing and performing opportunities, and encouragement I received continue to inform my approach to, well…EVERYTHING!”

-Geoff Countryman

“I grew up in life and in music in Oaktown Jazz Workshops. With the support of all the wonderful musicians who so generously give their time to mentor the youngsters that attend OJW, they are able to experiment with what works and find their voice in the world. The skills that I learned in OJW go way beyond music and will continue to be invaluable to me in my life as a musician and a human being.”

-Jesse Levit


“To me, Oaktown is the last bastion of the time honored tradition of education through performance practice and mentorship. The kids at Oaktown aren’t force fed “licks” or scales: they’re taught by observing, listening, and reacting. This is how the greats of this art form learned and I am eternally grateful for everything this program did for me.”

-Tim McKay


“I consider the Oaktown Jazz Workshops to be a very special educational and community-building program, and am constantly reminded of how fortunate I was to have been able to participate in it.  It is a nurturing environment in which all participating young musicians are encouraged to delve into the substantiality of jazz while matter-of-factly experiencing the many ways of enjoying it.”

– Hitomi Oba


“Oaktown Jazz Workshops saved my life by providing an outlet for me and other young musicians.”

-Ruthie Price



“OJW gave me the opportunity to explore the possibilities of improvising in a jazz setting. I learned so much from playing on a regular basis with Khalil and the other youngsters that were hungry for more knowledge about the music. I learned countless songs and met kids that I’m still making music with today as adults 15 years later. I’m very fortunate for those years being a part of Oaktown Jazz.  –Dayna Stephens


 “Oaktown Jazz workshops and founder Khalil Shaheed are the two entities most responsible for not only my being a musician but also for the success of that endeavor. Paramount to monetary success and notoriety are the inner feelings of joy, satisfaction, and the sense of ‘calling’ that Oaktown has instilled in me through the teaching of not only technical skill and theoretical knowledge but of musicianship and self-worth. The true gem that is the Oaktown Jazz Workshops cannot better be seen than by looking into the hearts of its students past and present.”

-Josiah Woodson

Alumni Quartet Kaz Aneesa Savannah Ian

OJW Alumni Band with Ian McArdle- piano, Kaz George- tenor saxophone, Aneesa Al-Musawwir- bass and Savannah Harris- drums; performing for OJW’s 2014 benefit concert. Photo © Grason Littles.