More From NPR's 'Jazz Profiles'

Nat Adderley recorded many albums under his own name while working with his brother's group. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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Nat Adderley: Brotherly Swing

The trumpeter spent many years writing, managing and playing for his brother's celebrated band.

In the late '80s, Betty Carter achieved sustained recognition upon signing to a major label, which also reissued much of her back catalog. Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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Betty Carter: Fiercely Individual

The intense vocalist blazed her own trail in the jazz industry, powered by her passionate singing.

Bill Evans continued to perform and record up until his death in 1980. Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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Bill Evans: 'Piano Impressionism'

Evans' lyricism and Western classical flourishes have proven highly influential to today's pianists.

Bessie Smith, shown here ca. 1935, remained an active performer until her sudden death at age 43. Three Lions/Getty Images hide caption

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Bessie Smith: 'Blues Empress'

The singer's feverish growls and impassioned delivery informed nearly all African American music.

Nat King Cole, May 16, 1960. Fox Photos/Getty Images hide caption

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Nat King Cole: 'The Singer'

Though an elegant piano stylist, Cole became a world-famous entertainer due to his voice.

Hoagy Carmichael's early music, including the 1927 melody to "Stardust," was heavily influenced by jazz, including the work of his friend and collaborator Bix Beiderbecke. Baron/Getty Images hide caption

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Hoagy Carmichael: 'Stardust Melodies'

With a laid-back, familiar style, he created timeless standards indebted to his early roots in jazz.

Sarah Vaughan, Jan. 22, 1960. Terry Disney/Central Press/Getty Images hide caption

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Sarah Vaughan: Vocal Virtuosity

The singer, who emerged with bebop, was capable of an extraordinarily wide variety of expression.

As of 2008, Dave Brubeck still tours extensively with his jazz quartet, often performing his religious works. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way

Unlike most jazz artists, the pianist and composer enjoyed both talent and commercial success.

Jimmy Witherspoon at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival. Courtesy of Concord Music Group hide caption

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Jimmy Witherspoon: Shouting the Blues

With a full, powerful baritone delivery, "Spoon" brought a strong dose of blues singing to jazz.

Willie "The Lion" Smith was a major influence on Duke Ellington, who wrote several compositions dedicated to him. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

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

Willie 'The Lion' Smith: Stride Piano Master

The flamboyant pianist was a leading purveyor of the ragtime-based style called Harlem Stride.