Greatest rhythm sections

The rhythm section in a jazz, blues or rock band provides the foundation and motive force for the entire ensemble. The truly great ones not only establish the band's sonic signature, they can generate new styles. Which rhythm sections do you think have been the most influential in their respective genres, and, or changed the way you listened to music? Please try to limit your selections to groups and not individual musicians as it the ensemble sound I'd like to get your comments on.
Al Jackson and Donald Dunn in Booker T. & the MGs and the Stax/Volt house band.
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I'll second the Zeppelin vote....gotta love "Moby Dick"...the Grateful Dead were pretty intense also during the "Drums" portions of their concerts.

just my 2c

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Geedy Lee AND Neil Peart of RUSH!
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.
Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth were the driving force behind the Talking Heads.
How about Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespere who were the rhythm section for hundreds of reggae bands, the most famous of which was Bob Marley and the Wailers.
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Tim Bogert And Carmine Appice; particularly in their brief stint with Jeff Beck.
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!
Gotta disqualify the Who w/ Moon even though I love them. Moon couldn't keep a beat unless he a friggin metronome blasting in his headphones. Now if you want to talk most destructive (self and equipment) drummers, he would certainly get my vote.
Motown's internal house band, the Funk Brothers, deserve a major nod here. That would be Pistol Allen (drums) and James Jamerson (bass).
Isellstuff yes I was going to also say Rush but didn't have time to write it down had to answer the doorbell.
What about Paul Simonan and Topper Headon from the clash? How about Mingus' bands with Danny Richmond on drums and either Horace Parlan or Jaki Byard on piano?

Of current bands, we need to include Praxis--Bill Laswell and Bootsy Collins on basses and Brain on drums.
I forgot to mention it, but I think the first response had it right. The Stax/Volt/Atlantic work by Booker T. and the M.G.s is unbeatable.
Benny Goodman's 1938 rhythm crew: Gene Krupa on drums, Harry Goodman on bass, and - on piano - Count Basie or Teddy Wilson.
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.
Not necessarily the greatest, but an intensely musical pair are Pino Palladino and Manu Katche. They're both primarily studio musicians, but they seem to pair up frequently (Joan Armatrading, Julia Fordham, Tears For Fears, Sting, etc.).
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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? That’s just wrong. For that you’ve 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?
"Gosh, Mejames, guess the thread's over."  

Wrong. It has barely started.

matscticman knows something here, Geezer Butler & Bill Ward.
I give Tim Bogert & Carmine Appice  and...


Some more offerings:

Jeff Porcaro, Mike Porcaro, and David Paich (Toto)

David Garibaldi and Rocco Prestia (T.O.P)

Any Steely Dan record Gadd, Porcaro, Purdie, Rick Marotta, Jim Keltner, Chuck Rainey

Jaco Pastorius and Peter Erskine (Weather Report)

John McVie and Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)

Phil Gould and Mark King (Level 42)

Although I don't like this band personally, Flea and Chad Smith are a formidable rhythm section.

+1 for Hancock, Williams & Carter from Miles' second great quintet. Maintaining a groove is one thing, but these guys could also slither around it like no others.

Two of my faves have already been mentioned---Al Jackson and Duck Dunn of The MG’s, and the two drummers of The Funk Brothers (the Motown house band) plus their best-in-the-world bass playing partner, the one-and-only James Jamerson.

To those I would add Roger Hawkins (drums) and David Hood (bass) of The Swampers, aka the house band at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It is with that rhythm section and in that studio that Jerry Wexler produced those astounding recordings of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Dusty Springfield, and many others.

And then there is the best team to have ever been in a self-contained Rock ’n’ Roll Group (self-contained meaning the members did all the writing, singing, and playing), Levon Helm (drums, harmonica, guitar, mandolin, and of course vocals), Rick Danko (bass, tuba, guitar, vocals), and Richard Manuel (piano, drums, vocals) of the God-almighty-great The Band. They are infact considered THE Band by the best musician’s in Rock ’n’ Roll.

By the way, I saw several of others' nominees live---The Who, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (as they were originally named), Led Zeppelin, others of that ilk, and sorry, those bands were not good in terms of being a rhythm section. They had their strengths and charms, but having or being a good rhythm section was not one of them. Honest!

Tower of Power
Rolling Stones
Omar And the Howlers
Fabulous Thunderbirds
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Rascal Flatts

Im a drummer so I am biased but bass and drums are key to all but classical. A good rhythm section is the canvas for the rest of the band. 
Ironically, Black Sabbath gave white musicians a bad name ;-). Terrible. On the other hand, Bonnie Raitt's guys are terrific. The L.A. studio team of Russ Kunkel and Leland Sklar (Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor) were as well. Levon Helm said Ray Charles always had the best band, and his classic sides prove the wisdom of that opinion. But I shamefully don't know who they were.
Black Sabbath the first true heavy metal band. Fantastic music.
From England. Those white lads created something different. All great musicians.
So were Uriah Heep, the finest in Heavy Metal.
Paul Newton w/ Ollie Olsson/ Keith Baker/Iain Clark, also Gary Thain w/ Lee Kerslake

Gary Thain the most melodic and fluid bass player in Rock.
Thanks for the Music. RIP

I think I can say unequivocally the Castle Communciations reissue of Black Sabbath’s first album about twenty years ago on CD is unquestionably among the very top rock recordings ever made, sonically, starting off with the thunderstorm. I had the opportunity to hear the Castle CD a couple weeks ago on a super system.

^ Interesting as usually the Castle reissues have been too edgy almost harsh IME. I have never heard that twenty year old Castle, though. Additionally, Uriah Heep´s "Look at Yourself" UK Castle 1986 RI on vinyl has a terrific audio quality, especially dynamics, very near the original UK Bronze ILPS edition from 1971. All other Heep Castle reissue vinyls have worse audio quality IME.
A lot of times harshness, edginess, sourness or whatever can be attributed to the time of day and day of the week and weather, not to the CD per se. I listened to the Castle Communications Black Sabbath CD on the super system at 7 am on a Sunday while enjoying a sunny high pressure system. I certainly wouldn't have said it was a super disc if it had sounded harsh or edgy. The sound was definitely not harsh or edgy or sour. If you could hear what I heard with my ears.....
Thanks 61. Levon Helm talked about The Hawks going and seeing Ray and his band in Montreal after they finished their nightly shows with Ronnie Hawkins.