Ok... I was expecting a totally different start to an album titled The Art of Rhythm... This album starts softly with Brazilian-style guitar and soft overlaid melodies created by a clarinet and string trio (Harrell joins on trumpet later). I'm now understanding that it's a subtle sort of rhythm that is being used to make art here.
From 1997, The Art of Rhythm is frequently listed as a first-pick from Harrell's discography. So far, upon my first listen, this is soft-spoken, pleasing music. The mood is calm and peaceful, without dramatic shifts of excitement. There's a little bit of a south-of-the-border, tropical feel to some of the music, featuring various percussion instruments and marimba. The instrumentation is big (perhaps this is Harrell's strength, after all) and fill up Harrell's compositions with textures of sound, atmosphere, and yes, rhythm.