Last night I played a duo set with the great guitarist Jamal Millner opening for Haiti’s RAM Band at The Southern Music Hall in Charlottesville. RAM Band had 11 musicians on stage and of those musicians sometimes as many as 7 were playing drums or percussion. They had a kit player and three hand drummers rolling through every song of the night. The other 3 musicians moved between either bass guitar or horns and percussion. The overall impact was a deep groove.
Watching and listening to RAM Band reminded me that a key element to groove is layering. Preceding that is of course the time aspect of music - the tempo of a song and how the musicians agree/disagree on that tempo. That time component (more fluid in a communal setting than your metronome aspirations lead you to believe it can be) is the foundation defining how hard the music grooves. But where things really start to dig in is in layering the rhythm with some parts static (unchanging) and other parts dynamic (changing).