Guy Salamon Group in Catalonia

Green Pilot Tour

Starting on March 16, the Amsterdam-based Guy Salamon Group will play five shows in Catalonia. A modest tour, but one with a serious guiding principle: make it as sustainable as possible. Boosters of this Green Pilot Tour are Europe Jazz Network (EJN) and two of its members: inJazz, Buma-sponsored promoter of Dutch jazz and its surroundings, and music school Taller de Músics in Barcelona.

In 2023, Europe Jazz Network (EJN) launched the Green Pilot Tours as a project co-funded by the European Union under the Creative Europe programme 2022-2024. A Green Pilot Tour is a tour of an artistic project or a band reaching at least four different venues or festivals and involving at least two EJN members. It should focus on innovative touring models based on the principles of sustainable touring and fair and balanced practices in the music sector. This may sound positive and logical, but where to start? The Guy Salamon Group, inJazz and Taller de Músics stepped up to the opportunity, well aware that sustainability is touching all processes in a tour: performances, operations, finance, communication.

Touring in 2023 inevitably raises questions like ‘Is there a way to tour without harming the environment?’ and ‘Is it selfish to want to tour abroad?’ Luckily, the Guy Salamon Group aims to be a climate-positive collective, with a net zero negative impact on the environment and resources. Circularity is their game. For circularity is as much about maintaining lasting relationships, with artists, with venues and programmers, with audiences, as it is about eliminating waste and maximizing the reuse of resources. And the Guy Salamon Group has an immediate and highly positive impact on society, to say the least, as everyone who ever witnessed one of their concerts can attest.

No-fly policy
In March, all eight members of the Group are flying to Barcelona. To compensate CO2-emission, twelve trees have been planted in February by Asociación Reforesta (photo below), a Spanish non-profit association dedicated to the promotion of sustainable development. Other actions taken by the Group, inJazz and Taller de Músics are the use of electric transportation for the band while in Catalonia, central housing (to avoid hotel use) and a ban on the use of plastics during the tour.
Composer, arranger and drummer Guy Salamon reflects on his endeavours in a conversation with Mark van Schaick, general manager of inJazz.

You travel a lot. Is the discussion about traveling and the guilt that comes with it often on your mind?
Guy: ‘Yes, it is. In Europe, I try to travel by train as much as possible, even though it takes a bit longer. And I think it’s crazy that you can travel to France by train, but not to Spain, for example. I am organizing a tour in Ireland in the summer, and we have a no-fly policy. We’re taking our stuff on the boat to England and driving across Ireland from there. Airlines are not the only enemy; the meat industry is worse, for instance. But for the work I do, flying is the biggest problem. When I need to go to Brazil, there is no other way. But then I think about only flying directly to places, even if it’s the more expensive route.
‘Of course, it brings up questions. Why am I even touring? Am I doing it just for myself? Is it selfish or greedy to want to play my music, or is there value for others in it? When we applied for Dutch organisations to help us, the question was always the goal of spreading Dutch jazz abroad. We could ask ourselves: is that necessary?’

The full experience
We have applied at EJN for a Green Pilot Tour together with you. To be honest, at Buma Cultuur we’re promoting Dutch jazz and its composers because there’s a financial model behind it. So, it’s not just culture per se that we’re supporting. And then there’s the inherent competitive element: if everybody promotes themselves, the Netherlands wants to be heard too. Plus, I think the aspect of what’s in it for the country you’re going to matters as well.

‘Of course, there’s a value in music to travel. Take my home country Israel: many bands don’t even go. Maybe they want to go but can’t because of boycotting or political pressure. As a place that doesn’t get a lot of influences from abroad, I feel there definitely can be an added value when someone comes to Israel doing a different thing. It adds another colour and allows you to spark some new emotions. When we played in Italy and Mallorca, it was different than playing in The Netherlands. The interaction with other musicians, and the audiences, it’s just different. You travel, you are respectful to the world around you, but you play for the people, and things get into you. There is something quite powerful about that. A tour mode is also definitely different than a home game. After the gig you are all there, you stay, you mingle, you are there for the full experience.
‘One nice thing: I will give a workshop on the 10th of March for the bachelor students at Taller de Músics, before we play in Barcelona with the band. I think that’s very valuable for the students, for the musicians in the city.’

There are many green initiatives in music. However, if the basic challenge is to tour as green as possible, it can be quite hard to figure out how. We decided to hire electric vans for this Green Pilot Tour. And we addressed the question of housing.
‘We don’t often stay in hotels. Capitalism can be very convenient, just like it is the easiest option to not be very environmentally friendly. “Cheap” more often than not means it is most damaging to nature. Think about the extreme amount of waste in hotels, the food surpluses from breakfast and the enormous cleaning jobs. On this tour, we’re going to share one apartment where we cook for ourselves and look after it like it’s our own. The tour is laid out in a way that we can stay in one place. I don’t know how that would work when you travel to different countries on tour. We’re fortunate that we can do this and that there are enough clubs to play close by.’

Philosophy for everything
You mentioned your music. Have you thought about bringing merchandise? Do you think about the way you present your music after you finish it?
‘I don’t really like producing material things. We do have CD’s, but up until now, we didn’t have any additional merchandise. So I was thinking about fun and creative ideas to produce something that isn’t wasteful, like second-hand items or sustainable things such as tote bags. It’s weird to think about my music in a way where I have to crunch numbers on how I can become more popular. Honestly, that’s never my goal. These things stress me out and are contrary to what I want to be doing: just making music. Usually, I keep it simple, I write music and I release it on a CD that people can keep at home forever. We don’t release on vinyl because of the long delivery time and the environmental aspect. My parents always get very emotional when I give them a physical album. But it’s the same as you mentioned before: everybody else is doing it, so should I do it too?’

Maybe it’s better not to overthink it?
‘That’s basically my philosophy for everything. [laughs] Another thing we do is contact people in the area we’re going, so we don’t have to bring excessive amounts of stuff from Amsterdam. Like, a double bass that’s already there. Bigger pop bands have large trucks on tour, but we only take the necessary. It does help that we’re pretty much acoustic. We’re lucky that jazz is a non-visually stimulated artform. It’s more about people bringing themselves than about fireworks.’

Your group is quite international, which is not a bad starting point for connecting.
‘What I do musically has influences from many cultures, with some Dutch traditions and some Jewish sounds, and I bring some humour, and, well, whatever comes next… I’m curious to see what that will do to the audience, when I bring my music to Lleida on the 16th of March, a place I’ve never been to before. It’s like a Norwegian or a Romanian band coming to Amsterdam: there is something quite exciting about bringing your music somewhere else.’

Do you have any expectations for this upcoming tour?
‘I must be honest: I am extremely excited to do this tour. It is like a crown jewel, the highlight of the year. I think it will also help us as a group because we’re all making time to play somewhere we’ve never been. I have no idea of any of the venues we’re playing, besides Jamboree, but that fits how I like to live my life. Just work as much as possible! Because this Green Pilot Tour happens, I’m writing a full new programme. And we will record! Thanks to the support I get from various organisations. It may sound extreme, but it keeps us alive artistically.’

You are recording after the tour, right?
‘Yes, after the shows, I, with my gracious leadership, allow the Group to enjoy one day off. After that, we will be recording new music for three days. So, first gig, gig, gig, and then no rehearsals but just recording from where we are at that moment. It’s going to be intense!’

Guy Salamon Group – EJN Green Pilot Tour
Catalonia 2023
10/03/2023  |  Guy Salamon solo workshop @ ESEM Taller de Músics, Barcelona
10/03/2023  |  Guy Salamon Quintet @ Ultramar Club, L’Escala
11/03/2023  |  Guy Salamon Quintet @ La Jazz Cava, Vic
16/03/2023  |  Guy Salamon solo workshop young students @ Lleida
16/03/2023  |  Espai Orfeó, Lleida
17/03/2023  |  Jazz I Am, Barcelona
17/03/2023  |  Mozart, Calella
18/03/2023  |  Jamboree, Barcelona
19/03/2023  |  La Mar de Jazz, Cambrils

During this tour, the Group line-up is:
Guy Salamon – drums
Irene Reig – saxophone
Brodie Jarvie – double bass
Alistair Payne – trumpet
Lucas Martinez – saxophone
Ian Cleaver – trumpet
Teis Semey – guitar
Xavi Torres – piano

  • InJazz is an initiative of copyright society Buma which aims to promote Dutch jazz and its composers in the Netherlands and abroad.
  • Taller de Músics is a lauded and distinguished music school, founded in 1979, based in Barcelona, which has a record label, production workshop and jazz club.
  • Europe Jazz Network (EJN) is a non-profit Europe-wide association of producers, presenters and supporting organizations who specialize in creative music, contemporary jazz and improvised music created from a distinctly European perspective.

Artist photography by Karen van Gilst