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Triptico: An electric sampling of Latin rock flavors




Who they are: Gabriel Valdivia (vocals, bass), Alejandro Valdivia (vocals, guitar), James Ferrell (drums).

Their story: Triptico navigates listeners through Latin, American and Caribbean cultures, with all roads leading to Tampa. Founding brothers Gabriel and Alejandro Valdivia gracefully stir their Cuban and Costa Rican backgrounds into their rock, jazz, funk and folk paella. As close as it comes to prog-rock territory, the band pulls it off with finesse.

The goods: Click here to listen to Triptico's Un Paso al Frente, then watch the video below to see them rocking out. Then click here to vote for them as Tampa Bay's 2009 Ultimate Local Band. And keep reading to discover the literary influences behind this Latin trio's heady sonic stew...


Inspired by the Spanish word for triptych, Triptico navigates listeners through Latin, American and Caribbean cultures, with all roads leading to Tampa.

Founding brothers Gabriel Valdivia (vocals and bass) and Alejandro Valdivia (vocals and guitar) were born and raised in Cuba, moved to Costa Rica during their childhood and relocated to Tampa as adults.

The sons of a Cuban poet, the Valdivias reveal an inherited sense of lyricism through their music, gracefully stirring the old and new sounds of places they lived into their rock, jazz, funk and folk paella.

The band, formerly known as A Limine, came into popularity in Tampa’s rock en espanol scene in the early part of the decade, but when their former drummer moved to Puerto Rico, James Ferrell stepped in. He had met the Valdivias ago while they were all three attending a Hillsborough Community College drawing class. Triptico forged a new name and new sound on his arrival.

Judging by a recent band practice, Triptico is on the right path. Rows and rows of candy-colored pedals, polished earth-toned instruments and state-of-the art amplifiers fill the space. The guys’ facility with the knobs, buttons and strings, and their patient repetition while playing, lend an impression that Triptico’s not messing around.

“We want our music to be enjoyed by everyone,” says Gabriel with genuine enthusiasm.

Gabriel plucks his six-string bass with precision and a funky thump a la the Chili Peppers’ Flea. Alejandro busts out some fancy guitar solos, unfurling Latin-flavor arpeggios. Ferrell’s fiercely tight drumming skills meander into prog-rock territories, but all three guys stop short of taking the tricks too far. In lesser hands, the music sound like another herky-jerky Sublime rip-off, but these players finesse their tunes with more subtlety and dynamics than your typical coral-necklace band.

“There is a fine line,” Alejandro says. “We had to learn that a long time ago.”

When it comes to words and music, half in English, half in Spanish, the guys say they contribute equally. When writing a song, an original concept becomes altered and takes on new interpretations.
“You could call our songs word paintings,” Ferrell says.

Visual art metaphors fit in more ways than one since all three members are artists; Gabriel and Alejandro are skilled graphic designers, and Ferrell is an illustrator. Their combined visual and aural sensibilities contribute to Triptico’s evocative style — the stuff of early ’70s double albums and Sun Ra records, underscored by a pretty, undulating Latin folk flow.

“That flow — that’s what we’ve been working on,” Alejandro says enthusiastically. “We try to incorporate that and other elements and overtones to help the listener experience new sensations.”

In May 2009, the band releases its first CD. Of, course they’re doing all the artwork.

-- Story by Julie Garisto; photo by Lance Aram Rothstein

[Last modified: Thursday, March 19, 2009 1:00am]


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