Max Roach, a drummer who moved to his own beat and became a seminal figure in modern jazz, died today at 83. Roach renovated his genre's traditional instrumentation, and pioneered a layered, contrapuntal style that became the trademark of contemporary percussion. Even his recent albums defied the conventions he helped forge. "You can't write the same book twice," he once said.
Roach helped pioneer bebop and founded a bevy of ensembles and record companies. But after releasing the landmark "We Insist!" in 1960, he vowed to "never again play anything that does not have social significance." Even in 2000, when he landed a teaching job at the University of Massachusetts, he was still touring and composing.