Motor City Cribs

Sep 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

Will Sessions is one of Detroit's best new bands. Since its debut last Halloween, it has recorded with Slum Village and neo-soul phenom Mayer Hawthorne, and re-created hip-hop tracks and live samples as a roots-inspired big band with Black Milk, Phat Kat and Guilty Simpson. If you like your hip hop with a side of funk, you'll freak.

Will Sessions (the band) is led by 26-year-old trumpeter-keysman-arranger Will Sessions (aka Sam Beaubien). A musical polyglot, Beaubien grew up in Royal Oak listening to funk and hip hop, yet his trumpeting earned him a scholarship in classical performance at Wayne State Music School.

After two years at Wayne, he switched to jazz and studied with the likes of genius Motown arranger David Van De Pitte (he did What's Going On). Since graduating with a music degree in 2006, Beaubien has worked as a music teacher at Hamtramck's Hanley International Academy by day while making Dilla-inspired hip-hop beats in his basement studio at night. 

After producing solo tracks by Athletic Mic League's Buff1 and 14KT, Beaubien was referred to Black Milk for production and to AML bandmate DJ Haircut for horns and arranging on his Mayer Hawthorne project. Just this year he's tackled the first of many live big-band hip-hop projects. 

"At first I was scared. How do you re-create Dilla beats? It's like re-creating Kind of Blue!"

Creating or re-creating isn't a problem for Will Sessions, and here's what's forthcoming: the band's first in a series of old-school sounding funk 45s (on FNR Records), the Bitches Brew tribute Kindred with Wendell Harrison, and an updating of Phat Kat's classic Carte Blanche with horns and strings. Tackling so many genres could confuse some, but not Beaubien. "I like to play all styles of music but I think it's important to stay true to the roots of each style."

Will Sessions will perform as the Guilty Simpson Big Band on Friday, Oct. 2, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-962-8700. See for more info.