To answer the original question: No, it seems you can't.
There is a transport object in Max which can be used to control the global transport. Yet when I try to control a rewire slave it you seemingly need to utilize the rewire~ object and send an int into its left inlet to start the (then) so called 'rewire transport'.
You can get it to start playing and you can trigger any specific loops you want. So given a quantisation, if say you have a beat tracker in max doing a pulse, a message could trigger your loop on the next pulse point at the required tempo.
What I've not seen is any control over Live's warp markers so althought this may be possible(?) I doubt it is at present, but neither would it be so useful to you.
Re beat tracking - I've done classes of the comb filter beat tracker and will post up to you later this week after porting into a max object.
In order to control Live, you use a live object, observe a property and then send a message. The one to fire clips is weird, you need to send "set fire" message not just "fire"
try looking in Live->Library->Lessons->clipOperations.amxd if you get hold of a copy.
Wow - thanks for all the help. This is way over my head the the moment as I have yet to get my hands dirty with MAX4Live, but I'll hand the the dissertation in and then I am free to crack on. Will report in as soon as possible with a little more than confused thanks...
I believe there are some things you can midimap to that you can't get through the live API, for example the pitch of a clip. It's on my to do list to work on: create a virtual midi out from Max, midi map a CC to it and so use this workaround to control certain parameters from Max that you can't get to through the API. Not pretty but it works.