Ronnie Mathews, 72, a jazz pianist best known for his supporting roles in bands led by saxophonist Johnny Griffin and, later, drummer T.S. Monk, died Saturday of pancreatic cancer in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to a posting on his website.
Mathews was born Dec. 2, 1935, in Brooklyn and studied at the Manhattan School of Music in the late 1950s.
His initial professional work was as an accompanist for singer Gloria Lynne. He found prominence in the early 1960s as a member of drummer Max Roach's band.
Although primarily working with Roach, he also frequently played with another drummer, Roy Haynes, and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.
After leaving Roach in 1967, he performed with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist Dexter Gordon and drummer Art Blakey.
A prolific sideman who appeared on numerous recordings, his output as a bandleader was relatively sparse. His last recording as a leader was "Once I Love," which was released on the Sound Hills label in 2002.
He also was a member of the orchestra for the Broadway musical "Black and Blue" that debuted in 1989, and taught classes in jazz piano at Long Island University in New York.