Batacumbele, an amazing outfit of musicians thoroughly steeped in Afro-Caribbean traditions and also fully conversant with the jazz idioms of the day, are a very important group in Puerto Rican history. The Latin jazz world is sometimes unappreciative of Puerto Rico's contributions to the world of Afro-Caribbean music, primarily looking to Cuba for direction. Batacumbele's In Concert: Live at the University of Puerto Rico is to the best argument to the contrary. This supergroup runs the stylistic gamut from folkloric music ("Elegua") to edgy, progressive jazz sounds ("May Day") to straight-up dance music ("Muévete"), and all with equal mastery. The band is truly a force to reckoned with, weighing in at 20 members, many even doing double duty on coro. Featuring some of the day's best percussionists, including Giovanni Hidalgo, Richie Flores, and Angel "Cachete" Maldonado, the rhythm section is unmatchable, and the crowd agrees. Being a live recording, it's clear to see how beloved this group is to the Puerto Rican people. After just a few listens, this disc will become equally beloved by non-puertorriquenos as well.
AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez