As Dizzy Gillepsie put it, Max Roach was a musician first. He approached jazz rhythms in a contrapuntal manner; and he approached drumming as part of the melodic line.
If not the originator, Roach was the seminal drummer for bebop and post-WWII jazz. With trumpet great Clifford Brown, Roach created several musically-important recordings in the mid 1950s, such as this eponymous album.
My personal favorite album is one he recorded 3 decades later with his quartet of that time: Chattahoochee Red, a now out-of-print LP (never transferred to CD or digital tracks). The title track is simply gorgeous.
Referring to Mr. Roach solely as a jazz drummer disregards the canon of his work. Percussionist might be a better appellation. He was active and influential in the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s; with Charles Mingus he co-founded a record label. Read this appreciation.
I saw Mr. Roach perform live only once: at Wolf Trap Farm Park. After the standard set, he dismissed the other musicians, and proceeded to play solo. He utilized his entire drum kit: every piece, metal stem, every wingnut. It was amazing, mesmerizing, and musical.