Definition and background:
The performers of the percussion instruments of an ensemble. Generally this term is applied specifically to a jazz band, the rhythm section of which would include: piano, double bass (or electric bass), guitar, and drum kit.
The musical instruments, especially the first instruments recorded in a tune that play rhythmic parts rather than melody parts.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary