Khalil Shaheed Scholarship Fund 2017

Khalil at 52nd street

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

Saxophone Clinic with Charles McNeal


Oaktown Jazz Workshops presents a special clinic with Eastman Saxophone Artist 
Charles McNeal

This World-Class Saxophonist is the owner of the #1 website for jazz saxophone transcriptions!

Saturday, November 4 • 2PM
55 Washington Street in Jack London Square, Oakland
All ages welcome!
Free Admission!

Young Musician Spotlight

Lucas De Hart


“Jazz means a lot to me. It is one of the few things I am passionate about,” states OJW Alumnus and alto saxophonist Lucas De Hart.  When listening to music Lucas focuses on modern jazz and jazz recordings from the 1960’s but also includes R&B from the 1970’s and 80’s as some of his favorite types of music.

Raised in Oakland, CA, Lucas started to learn piano at age four and began lessons on alto saxophone at age eight, but it wasn’t until he joined Oaktown Jazz Workshops (OJW) the summer before starting 5th grade that he began to enjoy playing music.

“My sister had participated in Oaktown Jazz when she was younger so she suggested to my mother that that if I really wanted to get into jazz I should join OJW. The first day was really fun, the instructors were Achyutan, Ravi Abcarian and Andy Ostwald, I was nervous and I didn’t really know what I was doing yet, but it was probably one of my funnest experiences; to just start trying to improvise.”

Lucas became an integral member of OJW’s Performance Ensemble during his eight years with the program. As he progressed as a musician he began mentoring the younger musicians enrolled in the workshops and in the summer of 2015 he was appointed to the position of Student Representative to OJW’s Board of Directors.

Some of Lucas’ most memorable times with Oaktown Jazz Workshops were performing at The City of Oakland’s Art & Soul Festival and at the many young musicians showcases that OJW presented in Jack London Square.

Now a freshman at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Lucas is a member of three of the university’s musical groups where he performs a range of styles from jazz to R&B to gospel.


Young Musician Spotlight

Jordon Dabney

Jordon Dabney with logo

“Music has always been a part of the way I learned.”

Jordon Dabney found out about Oaktown Jazz Workshops (OJW) when his mother, a choreographer and dancer, was rehearsing at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts for a project with OJW’s Founding Director, Khalil Shaheed.

Mr. Shaheed invited Jordan to attend OJW’s year-round workshops for young musicians at Oakland’s Dimond Recreation Center.

Raised in Oakland, CA Jordon Dabney loved music and dance as a toddler and started playing piano at age four. He picked up clarinet at age nine at Grass Valley Elementary School in Oakland and switched to alto saxophone the following year.

Jordon is now in his freshman year at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY and after participating in OJW from age 10 to 17 he feels he will continue to use jazz music as a tool of expression. “I can really bring myself to each tune, not just the improvisation but the tune itself. And at the same time I can listen to, and try to get into the head of the writer or arranger and put myself in their shoes.”

Appreciating the unique nature of jazz, Jordon states, “The expression and fantasy you can get through a lot of styles of music, but the thing that makes jazz appealing to me more than anything else is the challenge; it’s engaging, it takes a lot of work and there are so many details.”

Some of Jordon’s most memorable experiences with OJW have included the times he performed for The Oakland Symphony’s Celebration of the Life of Dave Brubeck at the Paramount Theater, The Port of Oakland’s Summer Intern Luncheon at Everett & Jones BBQ and The Alameda County Fair. “The gigs are always the most fun. When we rehearse it is focused on playing the whole time, but when we get to a gig and there is time before or after the gig and we’re just hanging out – that’s when we get to know each other a lot better…and when you begin to get comfortable with each other on a gig, it comes onto the stage with you.”