Sticking with the atmospheric vibe of 2007's Light On, trumpeter Tom Harrell delivers more progressive and laid-back post-bop on 2009's Prana Dance. Once again, Harrell is backed by his working group featuring keyboardist Danny Grissett, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Johnathan Blake. This is a stellar ensemble with an organic, almost telepathic sense of group interplay, featuring highly inventive and adept improvisers well suited to Harrell's cerebral compositions. The deftly simple tunes belie Harrell's use of odd time signatures and knotty, creative harmonic passages. Such songs as the buoyant "Marching" and the angular mid-album track "The Call" make the most of keyboardist Grissett's searching and minimalist Fender Rhodes sound. Similarly, the driving modal piece "Sequenza" brings to mind work by both Wayne Shorter and Dave Liebman -- which isn't necessarily surprising as saxophonist Escoffery adds a lithe and angular voice to each song. While he's always been an impeccable improviser and technically adroit hornman, Harrell himself has never sounded better or more assured on the trumpet. There's a warmth and directness to Harrell's music here that seems to flow from the yogic notion of prana or the balance of breath. In that sense, Prana Dance is the perfect balance of breath, movement, and music.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar