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

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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

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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

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

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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

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Geri Allen. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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