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CD REVIEW: KAMU - A Better World

by: Cyrus Rhodes



"invigorating & soulful"






Artist: KAMU

Album: A Better World

Label: KAMU Publishing

Website: http://www.kamumusic.com/index

Genre: Vocal Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Big Band Swing

Sounds Like: Al Jarreau, Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartmann, Nat King Cole, Toto, The Rippingtons

Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills/Interpretation: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: There’s a Place, Michael’s Song, Put it in the Music

Weakness: None   



(NEW YORK) KAMU consists of keyboardist Kim Kapfer, bassist Frank Musacchio, and drummer Carl Kapfer. Besides being lifelong friends and family these three musicians have been part of the Central NY music scene for many years. Guest musicians include: Miche Fambro (Lead and Background Vocals), Rick Balestra (Guitar), Larry Balestra (Percussion, Josh Dekaney (Congas/Bongos/Timbales) and Jeff Stockham (Trumpet/Frendh Horn). This group looks to the past for its identity. Three musicians are joined with four very talented guest musicians and one multitalented vocalist to create a sound that is both unique and familiar at the same time. The album "A Better World" features six vocal tunes and four instrumentals that come together to create a musical landscape of styles and sounds.


The CD kicks things off with “Michael’s Song” a beautiful and vibrant intro piece that serves up dynamic rhythm section, melodic jazz ambience and smooth as silk Jazz Guitar and solo's, sporadic percussive accents meshed against inviting vocal delivery from Fambro. Track 2 “There’s a Place” is a breathtaking follow up statement that serves up funky musical flow, impressive solo guitar, Piano and Trumpet, meshed against thought provoking lyrical content and more honey coated vocals from Fambro. I especially like the musical finale on this piece very compatible with the amazing lyrics - so beautiful it drove me to tears.  Track 3 “Separation” serves up methodical intro with eloquent rhythm section and mesmerizing musical flow coupled with heartfelt vocal delivery from Fambro that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. The music itself has a jazz vibe reminiscent of classic vocal Jazz like Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartmann and a dash of Nat King Cole. Other comparable for me: Miles Davis, Steely Dan and Toto. As this CD slowly unfolds its obvious the players in Kamu are quite accomplished. Make no bones about it this is classic Vocal Jazz with a dash of Funk and Big Band. It defiantly lives up to its uplifting title. What I like the most about this band is how well they groove together – testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. There is a plethora of musical instrumentation featured here including amazing Jazz Guitar, solos, Jazz Piano, Keyboards, Rhodes Electric Piano, Orchestral touches and movements, eloquent strings, and amazing Horn Section and well placed vocal harmonies. Some pieces even venture into classic Funk, Blues and Jazz-Fusion. Now turning our attention over to Fambro, as for his vocal abilities - he fits perfectly into this genera - like a glove. Yep this is clearly where he belongs. His voice goes down smooth and his deep rich Baritone is to die for. He mostly reminds me of Al Jarreau. Like the aforementioned; he fills the Jazz space extremely well. All players play their parts extremely well. Kudos goes out to amazing solo guitar from Rick Balestra and the impressive song-writing and playing from Kim Kapfer. All musical touches are brilliant and extremely melodic, the drummer pushes the natural accents perfectly and the silky rhythm section clearly gives this production a solid backbone. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board. "A Better World" by KAMU delivers 10 classic tracks all providing deep, thought provoking wisdom with messages that are uplifting and extremely positive. All engineering aspects check out. CD possesses thick low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. The amazing lyrics personify the Human Condition. From dynamic “Nicole’s Dance” to grooving “Put it in the Music” heartfelt “Hear the Voices (For Mary)” and “run Free” to jumpy “The Mariner” smooth as silk this CD pretty much has something for everyone. The CD ends with Track 10 ”Dan Quixote’s Ride” Bad Things” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber. CD contains 4 instrumentals within the catalog.


CD is a bit short with just 10 tracks. Perhaps 2-3 more tracks are needed to make this a fully loaded release. This last comment gets hall pass from me - mainly impart because of the traditional extended play Jazz/Fusion musical format.


After spending some quality time with KAMU ‘A Better World” I simply abandoned all hopes of finding any serious flaws. Instead as the CD progressed I became more and more impressed. Let me go on record and say "A Better World” by KAMU is a world class musical production from start to finish - for this classic yet timeless style of music. There’s not a weak song on this entire catalogue period, in fact I tip my hat to KAMU for letting it all hang out musically. These 10 Tracks are timeless gems that are both invigorating and soulful in nature. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are short and sweet musical experiences. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Lastly - the singing, writing and playing abilities of KAMU are entertaining and intoxicating. I guess I could go on and on all night about KAMU you simply have got to take a ride on The Swing set right away. It's been a long time coming. 


Cyrus Rhodes