PO Box 1160, Eden, UT, 84310
The Celtic Jazz ensemble SYNKOFA builds upon violinist Theresa Ellis's innovative arrangements of folk songs and adds the original compositions of guitarist Eric McKenna. The four-piece band also features the upright bass performance of Steve Wesson and Christine Lewis on Viola da Gamba and Bodhrán. Together, they play roots music with a gypsy flair, carrying listeners to the misty Irish Highlands, the hot jazz clubs of 1950’s Paris, the stone cathedrals of the Renaissance, to the porch steps of Appalachia, and beyond! The English word Jazz is actually derived from the Irish Gaelic T'chass, which means "fiery and full of life", as Ellis's surprising twists on traditional melodies and rhythms exemplifies. But the Celtic Jazz approach is just a springboard for the Synkofa Ensemble as they pluck pieces from the vines of Praetorius, Eric Satie, and David Grisman before infusing them with swing tempos, juxtaposed melodies, and extended improvisations. Each member of the quartet bestows instrumental proficiency as though it were a solar flare upon the material. Upright bassist Steve Wesson, equally competent with fingers or a bow, traverses syncopated lead lines to deep resonating sustained tones while holding down the groove. Gambist/Percussionist Christine Lewis's rich orchestrated lines lend tones of antiquity and her Celtic drumming a pulsating energy. Guitarist Eric McKenna artfully employs harmonics and pull-offs with rasgueado flamenco strums to craft his chords and solos. Theresa Ellis's masterful violin techniques underpin her fiery leads and stirring melodies. The name Synkofa is a play on the West African concept of "Sankofa", meaning that we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us so that we may use it to reach our highest potential as we move forward. Synkofa the ensemble seeks to transports listeners to distant times and places only to bring them back again to the present with eyes and ears wide open.