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Hitch On 2017

Martin Longley By

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For the final night's afterparty, the Kraków funk/jazz/hip-hop collective Gadabit played an extended set at Harris, possessed of slippery groove, but also packed with fast-tongued raps, courtesy of freestyler IND and Kuban, his co-rapper and percussionist. They were supported by a full live band, with violinist, sampler, keyboardist, bassist and drummer, their set followed by a jam that was more akin to an expanded band session, with existing numbers augmented by guest musicians. Gadabit were a wise choice to spearhead the blow-out party vibe, their sets fuelled with a tangible momentum, phrasing skill, enthusiasm and humour. If your scribe could lift the Polish dictionary, it's very possible that the raps themselves were thoughtful and amusing. Judging by the audience reaction, this seemed to be the case.

Earlier in the evening, the Gala Concert at Radio Kraków gradually revealed the competition results, and also bestowed prizes on many of the showcase artists. Hitch On is a contest that deems it valuable to give credit across the range, and even though the main competition prizes involve cash awards (for recording expenses), there are a prodigious number of accompanying rewards for showcase acts, principally involving gigs at other upcoming festivals, both around the globe and in Poland itself. Partly a tense ceremony, the concert became more relaxed once the results had been announced, and three of the selected bands could devote themselves to the business of entertaining the audience, perhaps in a more free-wheelin' fashion than when they were cooking under the spotlighted gaze of the judges.

It was a fine closing concert, with Quantum Trio grasping the main cash prize, and the Vibe Quartet arriving second, also securing a recording session and a prestigious Polish gig. Each of these combos delivered a set, with both of these being superior to their performances a day or two earlier. The Wójcinski/Szmanda Quartet also played, once again to a very high standard of cliff-hanging, sensitised improvisation, having just been awarded a pair of gigs for 2018, in Serbia and Poland.

It was a dire development indeed that your scribe's favoured band in competition, the Jan Kartner Quartet, received no formal acknowledgement from the judging team whatsoever...

Photograph Credit: Paweł Mazur

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