Al Jackson and Donald Dunn in Booker T. & the MGs and the Stax/Volt house band.
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Don Brewer and Mel Schacher of Grand Funk Railroad, who were kicked off as opening band for Led Zepplin. They were ordered off the stage when Peter Grant threatened Grand Funk's manager to get them off or else.
Also, I would put in there Bill Ward and Geezer Butler who provided the bottom and backing for the fathers of heavy metal; Black Sabbath.
And, for a few extra combos; Noel Redding & Mitch Mitchell and Jack Bruce & Ginger Baker.
For the life of me, I can't think of any contemporary combos.
Herbie Hancock,Tony Williams,and Ron Carter with the Miles Davis/Wayne Shorter quintets is my personal favorite but I don't fell qualified to say it is the best.
Others to consider are from some of Coltrane's groups,Bill Evan's rhythm section,and the modern jazz quartet(the vibraphone served a rhythm/solo function).
In rock,Baker,Clapton,and Bruce with Cream brought counterpoint to rock and roll.
Don't forget the JBs (Maceo Parker, et. al.) when they were backing James Brown-check out the tune "Doing it to Death".
Also, although the Tower of Power was rightfully lauded for the horn section, their rhythm section was excellent.
Finally, Issac Hayes' rhythm section on Hot Buttered Soul, recently re-released, laid it down too!
I just saw The Bad Plus in concert at the Blue Note here in Tokyo this weekend. I had thought their recorded music was great but the show was fabulous and I have to say that Reid Anderson (bass) and David King (drums) from The Bad Plus really are the dog's dangly bits.
Before I saw them live, David King's creative drumming had completely changed the way I listen to drums/drummers. Seeing their show brought my appreciation of his talent to new levels. Reid Anderson is an excellent bassist, with a great sense of group. Together they are excellent. Ethan Iverson on piano could be considered the third member of the rhythm section and he too is a pianist of extraordinary range and creativity, but as the band has only three members, including all three as 'the rhythm section' might be cheating... :^)
I encourage you to listen if you have a chance (Amazon has samples - listen to tracks 3-5 on These Are The Vistas - the more accessible of the two major label albums (Motel, an earlier album on the Fresh Sound New Talent label, is not terribly well-engineered to my ears). They play both originals and some surprising covers (a jazz band which covers Aphex Twins, Nirvana, and ABBA on the same album?). If you get a chance to see them live, by all means do so. They are a huge amount of fun.
Well, many of the standout combos have been mentioned already. Personally, I put JPJ and Bono at the top of the list, but Keith Moon and John Entwhistle, as well as Jack and Ginger, are certainly right up there. And yes, Neil and Geddy certainly set the bar up there pretty darn high. We can't forget Double Trouble and their genre-defining work with SRV. The various incarnations of the Funk Brothers are also some of the all time greats, as was Willie Dixon with any of the drummers he played with. Other bands with great rhythm sections from various genres would include: Triumph, Tool, Primus, Metallica (with Cliff Burton), Chris Duarte Group (reminiscent of SRV, and also from Austin).
Many interesting entries. What do you think about the seminal
Basie Orchestra rhythm section? Jo Jones (Papa, not Philly) pioneered the use of the hi-hat to drive the band, using the bass drum more for accents. Noone played that way before him, and everyone played that way after. Walter Page layed down that strong 4x4 that ancored all of the solos, particularly Basie's. Most big band bassists still do it that way. And Father Time himself, Freddie Green was the quintessential big band guitarist, with rock solid rhythmicity and an elegant tone. He was an integral part of what made the Basie band swing, and that may just be the ultimate expression of the word.
sly and robbie have done many, mnay great things. But, being the rhythm section for hundreds of reggae bands? Mmmm, hardly. Dozens of bands? Maybe. Rhythm section for bob Marley & the wailers? Thats just wrong. For that youve got to look for the real deal- Aston Familyman Barrett and brother Carly Barrett.
Fams and Carly are the real deal- the most dynamic duo. Their careers is a virtual history of reggae, from the dawn with lee scratch perry, they formed the core of the hippyboys, the upsetters, and yes, the wailers. they too had countless unaccredited sessions in-between.
it seems strange that people will stand in line for hours to credit sly and robbie with wonderful achievements, while shunning Fams & Carly. Can anyone explain?