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Mintz stays hidden for the majority of the album, providing only the slightest accentuations in many of the improvisations, and only coming to the forefront for a subdued solo or two along the way.
While Northwest jazz is starting to make a name for itself, with Johnson as one of its top proponents, this album strays away from the focus on melodic lines common to most Northwest.
The nine-track, almost hour-long outing is firmly explorative, with the trio searching for and generating spontaneous results instead of strict melodic or harmonic elements.
Sometimes it seems as if the three players are communicating in a reserved, disconnected manner, but this approach is not unintentional.
Emerald city bassist Jeff Johnson, though, has been producing challenging music that courses from avant-garde to stripped-down European-tinted free jazz, and his fourth album, Tall Stranger, finds the composer/player once again presenting liberating, sparse forms that stress trio improvisation.
On Tall Stranger, Johnson works with sax player Hans Teuber (with a bit of a free jazz bent of his own) and drummer Billy Mintz.The trio spends a lot of its time, however, seemingly working less as a trio and more as a collection of three independent players who happen to be in the same room.