The name Will Sessions was born as a producer alias of trumpeter Sam Beaubien. After sharpening his keyboard skills and learning writing and arrangement from the accomplished David Van De Pitte (who arranged for countless Motown recordings including Marvin Gaye’s album What’s Going On) at Wayne State University, he decided to start a band. With classmates Tim Shellaberger (bass) and Bryan Arnold (drums) along with recruits Ryan Gimpert (guitar) and Eric Kacir (Percussion), the band was complete.T h e y helped to develop a nascent monthly funk music party called Motor City Funk Night, and three years later, the party has grown into one of the sta- ples of the Detroit scene, and Will Sessions were playing in front of crowds of up to 3000 people.
The success of the Funk Night parties led to significant studio work with artists like Black Milk, Mayer Hawthorne, and Slum Village, and the hip hop sessions in particular led Beaubien to concoct the idea of Will Sessions recreating his favorite sample-based music in a live setting with the full band. His vision would be realized with three smash concerts in 2009 for Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, and Phat Kat, which left hip hop fans in awe of how the band stayed faithful to the original sampled and programmed beats, while creatively elevating the songs to new heights by recreating them live. It was the particular challenge of duplicating the unique beats of J Dilla that gave Beaubien the confidence to work on the emcee Elzhi’s anticipated project Elmatic.
Elmatic had been initially planned and announced in 2008 as a tribute to the historic 1994 album Illmatic by Nas, but it wasn’t until early 2011 that Elzhi and his manager Jae Barber agreed that it would be best to recreate all of the beats from scratch–and there was clearly nobody who could do it better than producer Sam Beaubien and Will Sessions. Since it’s widely considered to be the holy grail of hip hop recordings, the prospect of du- plicating the music from Illmatic was daunting. By using the original sam- ple sources of the album’s tracks as a foundation, producer Beaubien and the band members managed to recreate both the sound and the mood of the classic album with stunning precision on Elmatic, exceeding lofty expectations set by loyal fans and skeptical critics alike.
With an ever-increasing body of recorded work, a skyrocketing reputation within their hometown market, and their first tastes of national and international interest, Will Sessions are primed to be among Detroit’s hottest musical exports.