Insomnia - The Band

Insomnia - The Band - John McNeil

My band Insomnia first came into existence as an adaptation of the music on Sleep Won't Come, my first OmniTone release (2004). That album was a musical representation of periods of sleepless nights in my life.

The instrumentation on Sleep Won’t Come is piano, trumpet, and bass. Jeff Jenkins and Kent McLagan (piano and bass on the CD) had other commitments, and replacing them for this music was out of the question. So I decided to arrange the music for a group with no piano at all so there couldn't be any comparison.

I adapted it for trumpet, tenor, trombone, bass and drums. Some tunes wouldn’t translate, and others turned out quite different. We got good audience response, and I said, “Why don’t I write some more music for this group.” It’s morphed into a band with its own identity, which I named Insomnia.

To describe the music, I’d say that much of it is free but held together by ensemble writing and thematic unity. Free music by nature depends on band interaction. The key to success, as with all interactive music, is for the band members to have an overall compositional sense and a willingness to harness their own creativity to further the ends of the ensemble.  Finding people willing to check their egos at the door can be difficult, but bands like Insomnia prove it can be done.