Independence had often been taught as an enhancement to a groove not an integrated part of it. Elvin used triplets as his ground rhythm to subdivide and orchestrate what he heard in his head. This was miles ahead of anything that had been written or taught since the appearance of The Chapin Book.
Coordinated independence has always been a stumbling block for young drummers, it was for me. I went through all the books and still struggled but I soon discovered that my approach was all wrong. I realized that I did not understand what I was playing.
Every musician has to play off something, a melodic line, a harmony and in our case, a rhythmic ostinato. The quarter note is the foundation because you are using its subdivisions to create coordinated independent motion. This is the one step that many drummers overlook when trying to nail some lick.
The only real way to achieve a polyrhythmic approach is to have a firm rhythmic
foundation where you can hear and play the other rhythms inside the groove your playing. This is apparent in the work of Elvin, Roy Haynes, Steve Gadd and
Jack De Johnette and was the central concept in Gary Chester's "New Breed" books.
Coordinated independence is not only misunderstood but it is often abused. I was at a Jazz Festival listening to a well known Fusion drummer, teacher and author. It was also some of the worst playing I ever heard in my life. He was all over the place with several rhythms going on at once and not one was connected to the music.
Coordinated Independence is a prominent tool of our trade. How you use it, for the good or ill, of the music is entirely up to you.
The groove continues...