Like, say, I like Jaco Pastorius, who is a fusion-type bass player, his stuff tends to be technical and some degree of funky. He played with Weather report, which was a fusion group that was generally more abstract than Jaco's personal stuff. I'm a bass player myself, and I draw some influence from him in my playing.
I tend to listen closely to rhythm sections because I like interesting bass and drum parts. A lot of earlier jazz was more about the other instruments and the rhythm section was more there to keep the beat. Which doesn't mean there isn't plenty of good stuff, but you usually have to be listening for other things in the music. It took a while for rhythm sections to really come into their own.
If you can find some Buddy Rich stuff, that'll give you an example of a later big band with a more developed and prominent rhythm section than, say, Duke Ellington's band. As well, there's more of an emphasis on individual interpretation by the soloists and less on orchestrating everything (of course, this viewpoint may be tinted by the fact that most of Ellington's recordings are taken as literal gospel?someone somewhere decided that if your band plays an Ellington piece, it has to play everything verbatim...which is in my opinion a terrible way to teach jazz, since it arguably strips the whole element of jazz out of the picture).
I don't know how helpful that was, but I'm bored, sitting in an airport terminal waiting for my delayed flight to stock enough lemon-scented napkins that we can take off. Salt to taste.