I don't know what to say, other than that even CNN.com's glowing obituary is a vast understatement. Max Roach was a complete genius of a jazz pioneer.
[Edit: See the NY Times and the AP/San Jose Mercury News instead.]
Goodness do I feel lucky to have seen him perform not once, but twice! Even from my seat in the audience, he seemed like a warm, approachable person, playing his kit for melody as well as rhythm.
If you're unfamiliar with his work, I recommend the CD Clifford Brown & Max Roach, which was recorded in 1954.