Oi Va Voi 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The music of the Old World has never sounded as current and alive as it does
when Oi Va Voi takes it under its formidable wings. Mixing the “here and now”
with the “way back when” with flair, attitude and fun, the British musical
collective takes the Yiddish roots of klezmer and the Eastern European cultural
heritage and wraps it in modern dance music. Instead of those styles
canceling each other out, they bring out the best of both, forging a new musical
style that has captured audiences around the world.
multicultural experience includes their unique Jewish groove; a soul singer from
Ghana, Bridgette Amofah, who sings in Yiddish; violin, clarinet and trumpet
players that rock like electric guitarists; and a rhythm section that can swing,
whether it’s Hungarian fold music or electronic dance raveups.
music in the literal sense, which explains why the seven-piece band’s most
recent 2009 album was called Traveling the Face of the Globe
. It was almost two
years ago that they launched a tour in support of the album with three shows at
the Barby Club in Tel Aviv, and according to drummer and band leader Josh
Breslau, they deliberately decided to end the tour here as well.
an amazing connection with Israeli audiences. We chose Tel Aviv as the place to
open our Traveling the Face of the Globe Tour almost two years ago, and we’re
happy to close the circle by closing the tour on the very same stage in front of
our Israeli fans,” said Breslau, referring to Oi Va Voi’s upcoming show on
December 16 at the Barby.
When he spoke to The Jerusalem Post
the January 2010 shows, Breslau said he saw the band’s mission as dusting off
the music of previous generations for a new audience.
“It wasn’t the kind
of music our parents listened to, but it was what our grandparents might have
listened to. Sometimes cultural things skip a generation,” he said.
Voi’s music certainly hasn’t skipped this generation. Since selfreleasing their
debut album Digital Folklore
in 2001, the band has been having that same effect
on audiences elsewhere, with its potent mix of updated takes on traditional
klezmer, Gypsy and Balkan music.
Some members – notably early vocalist KT
Tunstall – have gone on to greater solo heights. And just this week, founding
member Sophie Solomon, who left the band in 2006, was appointed as director of
the Jewish Music Institute in London.
Those defections threw some spokes
in the band’s forward momentum, and for over a year after Solomon’s departure
and other upheavals that left the band whittled down to four members (Breslau,
clarinetist Stephen Levi, guitarist Nik Ammar and trumpeter Lemez Lavoc), they
went on an open-ended hiatus.
But new stimuli via producer Mike Spencer
(known for his work with Jamiroquai and Erasure), the recording of a 2007 album
in Tel Aviv and the introduction of captivating vocalist Amofah reenergized the
band. And like the timeless Timex watch, they’ve been ticking like a metronome
This month’s Tel Aviv show will be the last chance to see the
band for a while, as they return to England to regroup from two years on the
road and start thinking about recording their next album. So bone up on your
favorite Yiddish phrases and polish off your dancing shoes for a night to
remember with everyone’s favorite Gypsy electronica band.