Geri Allen watches as Taylor Eigsti, Jason Moran and Ellis Marsalis, from left, perform in a round robin at A Jazz Piano Christmas 2012. Brendan Hoffman for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Brendan Hoffman for NPR

Geri Allen. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com hide caption

itoggle caption John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Geri Allen (left) and Esperanza Spalding perform together at the Mary Lou Williams Festival in 2010. Margot Schulman/ hide caption

itoggle caption Margot Schulman/

Jonathan Batiste ends this set with "Kindergarten," a modern and hand-clapping take on the Louisiana roots of jazz. Ingrid Hertfelder/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Ingrid Hertfelder/Courtesy of the artist

Pianist Kris Davis has a delicate yet searching touch on Paradoxical Frog, a trio record with Tyshawn Sorey and Ingrid Laubrock. EyeShotJazz hide caption

itoggle caption EyeShotJazz

The Kennedy Center honors Mary Lou Williams every year with the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, which showcases today's brightest female jazz artists. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

itoggle caption William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com