Cava Menzies


Bay area native Cava Menzies hails from a long line of musical talents; her grandmother, a pioneer in the New York Jazz scene as a dancer at the Cotton Club, her father, Eddie Henderson, an accomplished jazz trumpeter and early member of the Herbie Hancock sextet, and her mother a classically trained flautist. Cava is a classically trained jazz pianist who has performed throughout the Bay Area and abroad.


In 2001, Cava received a BA from the Berklee College of Music in Boston where she studied jazz piano and music education. In 2008, Cava received her MM from the University of Miami where she studied composition and music production and recording.  


Cava is a member of the bossa nova and standards duo CAVALISA which is comprised of Cava Menzies (Piano, Vocals) and Lisa Forkish (Lead Vocals).  The music of CAVALISA is infused with lilting vocal harmonies, lush chordal textures, lyrical chordal textures, lyrical piano melodies, and a rich palette of percussion and drums.  CAVALISA draws on the romance and beauty of bossa novice infused jazz and classic standards. Their first album, "Vast Is The Sky", was released in January of 2013.


Cava’s musical talents extend from collaborations with various Hip Hop, Soul, Jazz and Latin artists to film documentaries. Her portfolio includes work with film company Jog9 productions, with credits on the award winning film “Soundz of Spirit” soundtrack, and music and original film score for Alameda County’s 2006 multi-media campaign. As well, Cava's piano and vocal work has been featured on albums for Bay Area artists Zion I, Crown City Rockers, and Latin group Quijerema. Cava recently scored two short films, "Oakland Originals", that premiered at the Oakland Film Festival and the Grand Lake Theatre.


Cava recently released an album, "Moment to Moment" with trumpeter  and Concord Music record producer, Nick Phillips.  "Moment to Moment" received 4 stars from Downbeat magazine and national acclaim.  Cava has performed at Yoshis Oakland, Yoshis SF, the 57th St. Gallery, 1400 Fillmore, the Oakland Museum, The Den at the Fox, the Cadillac Hotel SF, Piedmont Piano Co., and for both KCSM and KPFA radio stations. 


Cava is the Artistic Director at the Oakland School for the Arts (OSA). She is also a founding faculty member at the school and the chair of the Vocal Music Department at OSA.  In 2013, Cava became the Program Director for OSA's Diversity and Recruitment Program, "Step It Up", which offers free arts education to Oakland students in 5th - 8th grade. Through her work at OSA, Cava has led four concert tours to Italy, Puerto Rico, and New Orleans.  As well, Cava's directing and arranging work have been featured at Levi's Stadium with Coldplay, at the Inauguration of California Governor Jerry Brown, at the Oakland Raiders Games, Warriors games, SF Giants games, Clorox Co.,  Gap Inc, and for President Barack Obama's visit to the Fox Theatre, Oakland in July 2012.


Cava is a 2014 National Artist Teaching Fellow and traveled to New Orleans, LA to study Jazz piano and vocal history.

In 2016 and 2017, Cava began teaching for Berklee College of Music's weeklong music intensive programs in LA and Puerto Rico.