It's been quite a trip for Triptico

Here's an excerpt of Julie Garisto's story on Triptico out of the Tampa Bay Times. For more info, check out the Soundcheck Blog.


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.

Sons of Cuban poet Ismael Valdivia, they 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 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,” Gabriel says 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 could 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 over tones to help the listener experience new sensations.” In May 2009, the band releases its first CD. Of, course they’re doing all the artwork.


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