To many outside of East Africa, the Kenya Special Soundway compilation released in 2013 was their introduction to the full spectrum of the musical landscape of 1970s and ‘80s Kenya. The promotion of Kenyan music on an international level from the mid-eighties onwards had often been within a narrative of ‘otherness’, where releases were marketed as world music, focusing on a few genres with clearly defined sounds, such as benga and Swahili rumba. Kenya Special did more or less the opposite by highlighting songs and bands that couldn’t easily be categorized. Many of the featured songs seemed to bend the rules, break away from existing genres and sometimes borrow from foreign music trends.
New Zealand screenwriter Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show) made his feature directorial debut with this science fiction drama, set in a future when one's life is determined by genetic engineering rather than education or experience. The wealthy can choose the genetic makeup of their descendants. People are designed to fit into whatever role is decided before birth. But what happens when someone desires another way of life? Citizens in this impersonal future-world are fashioned as perfect specimens, so those in the natural-born minority are viewed as inferior to the pre-planned perfect specimens (aka "Valids") who dominate. One of the natural-borns (aka "In-Valids"), Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), has several defects (poor vision, emotional problems, and short 30-year life expectancy), but he also develops a different outlook on his pre-ordained fate. He yearns to break free from society's constraints, and he dreams of a journey into space as a Gattaca Corp. navigator.
This CD is not only a fine addition to the Pat Martino catalogue, it is also of historical importance with respect to his personal and musical development. Recorded at the well-known eclectic nightclub the Tin Angel in Philadelphia in the mid-nineties (the exact date is not given and probably unknown), it is a duet set (or selections from multiple sets) featuring Martino with pianist Jim Ridl, a giant creative force in his own right, who for about ten years worked with Martino as a duet and in the latter's groups.