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Sekou Bunch: The Next Level

Sekou Bunch is a well-known session bassist in the smooth jazz universe, but he is perhaps best-known as the first contestant voted off the Survivor: Cook Islands reality TV series in 2006. The native New Yorker might not have possessed what it took to survive in the South Pacific, but his debut CD as a leader just might help him survive a solo artist. It surpasses expectations.

Sure, there are some smooth nuggets, well-played but predictable: a glorious new version of “Sun Goddess” with Fred White and Lamont Van Hook handling the familiar Earth, Wind and Fire vocals; an urban slick chestnut “Smooth Sailing,” with Angela Winbush vocals and Boney James tenor sax; “Haters,” a slammin’ funk number complete with clap rhythms and Bunch’s thumb-thumping on his Fender jazz bass; and a melodic and calming instrumental version of “Everything I Miss at Home,” a Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis hit for R&B vocalist Cherrelle.

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