Rychard Carrington reports on Oi Va Voi – The Junction Shed, Cambridge, 5 Dec 2006

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
This was music at its most positive. Oi Va Voi's fundamental intention is to render their Jewish musical heritage alive and contemporary, and at that they succeed absolutely. All the timeless soulfulness, the feeling of dancing with proud resilience in the face of adverse fate and rank oppression - the magic ingredient in folk music throughout the world - is manifested quite magnificently by this young London band. Techno rhythms add energy to the sound, without ever stamping over the delicacy (as can happen in such combinations). Trumpet and clarinet add jazzy touches, in fact the whole band is musically very adept and imaginative, but always in service of the overall sound, rather than gratuitous virtuosity. And, hey, two very attractive young ladies have joined the band, vocalist and fiddler in place of K T Tunstall and Sophie Solomon.

The group's pleasure in their own music was very evident, and easily carried over into the audience, who danced and clapped to their hearts' content. The seven-piece combo even returned for a second encore, after the house lights had been turned on.

With their Jewishness prominent, and the band popular in Israel, it is easy to contextualise Oi Va Voi within current international tensions, acts of political and religious violence, and all thier tragic consequences. But Oi Va Voi exemplify the spirit of music that opposes hatred and oppression with benevolent natural energy and fosters common feeling amongst the downtrodden ordinary people of the world. Their sensitive, subtle, joyous music deserves a much bigger audience. We could all much benefit from it.

Writer: Rychard Carrington

Photo: Gianfranco Gaioni