Wed. Nov. 22, 2017 - 02:25 PM CET

10 essential Miami WMC jams…

10 essential Miami WMC jams10 essential Miami WMC jams… I guess I can say I’ve lived the Golden Age of the yearly Miami Winter Music Conference, being a regular from 1996 until 2005. So many images comin’ back to mind. From unforgettable meetings to rockin’ parties all day/nite long. Not to mention a bunch of tunes that blew my ears as the ones of countless people from a year to another.

If I had to summarize this experience, I’d first come up with the image of the pleasure we all had to meet up from a year to another. And most likely around the Fontainebleau-Hilton pool bar where we could have a chat in front of a drink and update each other with our respective projects. The countless goodies that I, as a reviewer, would be given. My first meetings with luminaries such as Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries or François K among others. Some lunches or dinners I had with Byron Stingily, Dennis Ferrer or Ralf GUM. The Masters At Work parties, but also the Magic Sessions and The West End Records parties. Or some firing mix sets by the likes of Glenn Underground, DJ Romain or Quentin Harris to name a few…

And I could also talk about the times when I happened to become a humble actor to the event while spinning. Be it for King Street’s 10 Birthday party or for Large Records. Not to mention those live sets where I got myself honored while sharing the duties with Miles Davis and Chic percussionist Sammy Figueroa. But also an edless trip I did by train from NYC Penn Station to Miami with long time friend Robbie (the promoter). And last but not least, the countless moments I spent with (uncle) Sundiata OM. Of course, we all would need like a week to recover after. But what a blast this was year after year.

As always, a selection is per definition limited. And God knows how many gems which did it during the Conf’ took the worldwide floors by storm soon after. As a result, many are those we couldn’t talk about here. Even though they would have definitely deserved a mention. Nevertheless, you should find thereafter a pretty much illustrative sample of festive pieces of art where the quality predominates. Be it from the melody and the arrangements, the rhytmic parts or the vocal performances. And most likely altogether as one.

Wishing you’ll enjoy the reminder as much as we did, while putting it together for you. With your feedback, and a mention of your favorite song more than welcome…

10 essential Miami WMC jams / Kim English – Learn 2 Luv (Mood II Swing Vocal) (Nervous)
1997 happened to be my second round in Miami, and no need telling you how excited I was once again at the perpsective of meeting such a concentration of talents. Not to mention the amount of festivities in such a short period. I would get back home from there with something like 3 flight-cases full of promo 12″ in addition to countless mixtapes. Including a copy of Kim English‘s ‘Learn 2 Luv’ which label head Mike Weiss had given to me. Still standing among my all time favs, from its upltifing lyrics to its vocal performance. Not to mention its production work by the likes of Mood II Swing
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Those Guys – Love, Love, Love (Basement Boys Records)
I can’t even remember if the WMC was used as a tool to promote this joint. But once thing for sure is the fact that I first heard it in Miami. That happened during one of the memorable Tony Humphries‘ ‘Magic Sessions’. I was standing next to the DJ both when he started his mix set. I literally got to 7th Heaven from the very first note. And as a matter of fact, from the very first note of French Jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty‘s ‘Computer Incantations For A World Peace’. Far from being the very first cut coming to mind in a club, but what an intro this was. Naturally leading to Those Guys‘ ‘Love, Love, Love’, built on a sample of it.
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Nuyorican Soul – It’s Alright, I Feel It (Roni Size Mix) (Talkin’ Loud / Giant Step)
The end of 1996 saw the release of the last ambitious project in the history of Dance Music. Its name: Nuyorican Soul with guest such as Roy Ayers, George Benson and Jocelyn Brown among others. Meanwhile, the Giant Step/Talkin’ Loud party would stand as one of the highlights of the WMC 97. It’s alright, I feel it perfectly summarizes the impression speaking of this event. With producers Louie Vega and Kenny Dope jamming on stage along with Roy Ayers. ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It’, one of the highlights from the eponymous album with Jocelyn Brown firing things up in her instantly identifiable style. And UK junglist Roni Size bringing it to an incredible new level…
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Aaron Carl – Crucified (Vocal) (Soul City)
Even though Detroit established itself as the epicenter of Techno, the groove has always been around in the city. From the Motown era to luminaries such as Al Hudson, The Spinners, Oliver Cheatham or The Dramatics. But also DJ’s/producers like Theo Parrish and Moodymann for its funkier side. Not to mention Alton Miller, Diviniti or Pirahnahead. If not Underground Resistance‘s own Mike Banks who produced artists such as Bridgett Grace and Davina.
The WMC 1996 was nearly coming to an end when Aaron Carl brought me to his room to give me a test pressing of this gem. Bringing me to a high state of emotion each time I come to have a listen to it. This would be the start of a continuous friendship between us until his passing on Sept. 30, 2010.
10 essential Miami WMC jams / USG – Ncameu (Main Vocal Mix) (Clairaudience)
Don’t ever ask me why… I’ve always felt like an instant impression of hypnotic animality on this. As if it had been conceived to let the dancer leave control to bring her/him to another galaxy. Here we have nothing but a dream team of Chicago talents. From Ron Trent and Anthony Nicholson who produced it. To sultry songstress D’Borah Rivers. Not to mention a then relatively unknown Peven Everett on trumpet.
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You (Roulé Music)
I was doin’ a brief stop at some beach party when I first got to hear this. I can’t remember who ever was spinning but the effect happened to be the one of a bomb from the very first note of Stardust. One could feel the surprise in the eyes of a collegue of mine. And also the instant effect it had on people dancing. We most likely all felt there was something apart on it. Just like Daft Punk‘s ‘Around The World’ had it the year before. With its rumblin bassline cleverly embedding elements of Chaka Khan‘s ‘Fate’. To me, one of the most brilliant episodes of the French Touch!
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Ann Nesby – Witness (Roachin Da Bassbin Mix) (AM:PM/Promo)
Writing for various mags at the time, I regularly found myself switching from R&B, Hip-Hop or Soul to House, Techno or Drum & Bass vibes. This explaining how I had the same pleasure listening to original works and remixes. Quite familiar with Sounds Of Blackness and their producers – Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis – listening to their former lead singer’s material happened to be quite natural. I just felt like so lucky to be given a copy of the AM:PM WMC’ 98 by Simon Dunmore soon before he came to lauch Defected Records. A limited sampler which features this stellar mix that never saw the light commerically. Although it’s such an outstanding rework. By Farley & Heller if not doin’ a mistake…
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Voom Voom – Baby³ (Version 1) (Compost Records)
By the beginning of the 2000’s, I was most likely dealin’ with the boiling Electronic Jazz scene. This getting me to meet people such as dZihan & Kamien and Jazzanova. But also Fauna Flash or Beanfield among others. When coming to listen for the very first time to ‘Baby³’, I was once again attending to a beach party, with Kruder behind the decks. I got literally taken into this electro Disco vocoderized joint, somehow standing at the crossroad between Giorgio Moroder and Daft Punk. And so overwhelmed when Kruder gave me an Advanced copy of it…
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Natalie Cole – Tell Me All About It (Smooth Edit) (Sounds Like Ultra)
What I loved about the 70’s/early 80’s is that we got exposed to such a musical diversity. This being how I came to appreciate things such as the Blue-Eyed Soul. And how I eventually discovered artists like Steely Dan, Bill LaBounty and Michael Franks among others. The biggest classic from the latter, ‘Tell Me All About It’ resurfaced 20 years later. As covered by Treena Rose on Jellybean Records. But also under the form of a white label titled Alan Smithee in Blue Blackness a few weeks before the Conf’. I discovered it back then during a sunset mix by the likes of Danny Krivit. It was an unofficial remix of Natalie Cole‘s version of it. I hopefully found a copy of it a couple of hours later at Uncle Sam’s…
10 essential Miami WMC jams / Ron Hall & The Muthafunkaz feat. Marc Evans – The Way You Love Me (Original) (Defected Records)
2005 happened to be my last round at the Miami Winter Music Conference. Among its not to be missed events, the famous Defected Records party that used to be held back then next to the pool of the National Hotel. I remember my attention being caught up when I first heard a boiling groove embedding a sample from Teddy Pendergrass‘Come Go With Me’. Trying to get to know more about it, a few people told me it was like a best kept secret at the time. I realized years after when it finally saw the light that it was the one I’d heard back then…

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