Ivy League jazz in Redwood City

Newspeak, based at Yale University, is headed by an Atherton native

Spring break in America is a blank canvas that can represent a bevy of possibilities -- debauchery in a tourist town or a temporary cure for homesickness being two of the most popular. For pianist/vocalist and Atherton native Alexander Dubovoy, the annual ritual at Yale University means the chance to do concerts on the West Coast, including in Redwood City and Oakland, while seeing family and friends in between gigs.

A senior majoring in history, Dubovoy is also a member of the jazz-informed all-undergraduate group Newspeak. The quartet will be playing Angelica's in Redwood City at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16 as well as Birdland in Oakland on at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 20.

Dubovoy graduated from Crystal Springs Upland School in Hillsborough in 2012 and was a private student of jazz educator Gordon Fels. He also attended the Stanford Jazz Workshop for six summers, studying both piano and vocals. (One of his instructors was the inimitable Menlo Park native Taylor Eigsti.)

None of the other members of Newspeak are music majors, either. Trumpeter Eli Brown studies performing arts, while double bassist Hans Bilger is a biologist. Drummer Griffin Brown (no relation to Eli Brown), in turn, is an English major.

"We've all incorporated music into our studies," Dubovoy pointed out, by phone from New Haven, Connecticut. "My thesis is about the history of jazz in the Soviet Union, and Eli is exploring street performance. Hans is using bird call samples in his compositions, and Griffin is a poet and lyricist who makes all kinds of literary references," he said. "That's the cool thing about being at a liberal arts university like Yale."

The group has performed on campus, around town and in New York City. In 2013, Dubovoy and his bandmates went into the studio to capture their debut album, "Machinery of the Night," which was recorded by Jack Renner. An 11-time Grammy Award winner, Renner was also co-owner of the famed jazz and classical label Telarc.

"Machinery of the Night" (available online) shows off Newspeak's diverse influences and broad aesthetics. On it, one can hear standards ("There Will Never Be Another You," Charlie Parker's "Au Privave"), contemporary classics ("Blackbird," Elliot Smith's "Between the Bars") and a Yiddish folk song ("Oyfn Pripetchik"). There's even a 21st Century composition, trumpeter Roy Hargrove's "Strasbourg/St. Denis."

"One of the really good things about this band is that jazz is the influence that connected all of us," Dubovoy said. "But we all have really divergent influences, too."

What: Newspeak

Where: Angelica's Bistro, 863 Main St., Redwood City

When: Wednesday, March 16, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $14-$20

Info: Go to Angelica's or call 650-679-8184.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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