In a pair of duo albums the protean Robinson confines himself to 10 instruments from his arsenal. Alphabetically, they range from alto sax to zither, sonically from the rumbling contrabass saxophone to the altissimo twittering of the sopranino sax. His accompanists are pianists, although in Záhadná Emil Viklický also plays organ and solovox and in Afar Frank Kimbrough doubles on electronic harpsichord, clavioline and two kinds of organ. As for the music, you were expecting maybe the Great American Songbook? Wellno.
Robinson, Viklický and Kimbrough are masters of chord-based invention, but these albums from Robinson’s ScienSonic label are mostly free improvisation. In Záhadná there are also musings on a few folk melodies from Viklický’s native Moravia. The haunting “Ej, Lásko, Lásko,” with Robinson playing C melody sax, is a highlight. Little pieces played with abandon in eight pastiches called “Honička” (Czech for “chase”), live up to their title. Altogether, the music is packed with insights into the workings of three unconventional minds. In Czech, “Záhadná” means “mystery” or “eeriness.” These CDs have not only mystery, but also wit, profundity and remarkable musical sensibilities interacting with the speed of thought.