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

He devoted much of his career to the band led by his more famous brother, saxophonist Cannonball Adderley.

Nat Adderley: Brotherly Swing

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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

An electric performer, Carter was an irrepressible and incomparable practitioner of the jazz vocal tradition. For nearly 50 years, the intense vocalist blazed her own trail in jazz, powered by her passionate, intense singing.

Betty Carter: Fiercely Individual

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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' introspective lyricism and subtle, Western classical flourishes have echoes in a legion of fellow keyboard players. As a leader and composer, he introduced an influential, highly interactive approach to trio and small-group performances.

Bill Evans: 'Piano Impressionism'

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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'

Through hit recordings and a busy nationwide touring schedule, the singer gave the blues a raw, regal poignancy — and marketability. Her feverish growls and impassioned delivery informed nearly all African American music.

Bessie Smith: 'Blues Empress'

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

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Nat King Cole: 'The Singer'

Nat King Cole emerged in the late 1930s as an elegant piano stylist and leader of his influential working trio. But his greatest fame began when he took up a microphone to sing, and soon became a consummate and world-renowned entertainer.

Nat King Cole: 'The Singer'

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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, the composer, pianist and singer created popular hits for decades — and logged numerous entries into the great American songbook. When asked about his tuneful gift, he credited his early roots in jazz.

Hoagy Carmichael: 'Stardust Melodies'

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

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Sarah Vaughan: Vocal Virtuosity

Sarah Vaughan was affectionately known as both "Sassy" and "The Divine One," nicknames that reflect the extraordinarily wide range of expression she achieved in her singing.

Sarah Vaughan: Vocal Virtuosity

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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 the vast majority of jazz musicians, the pianist and composer was blessed with both talent and commercial success. His blend of experimental and lyrical approaches made him one of the biggest draws of his day — and ever since.

Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way

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

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Jimmy Witherspoon: Shouting the Blues

During a career more than five decades long, "Spoon" brought a strong dose of blues to many of the jazz world's finest bands. With his full, powerful baritone delivery, he was one of the best of the "blues shouters."

Jimmy Witherspoon: Shouting the Blues

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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

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Willie 'The Lion' Smith: Stride Piano Master

The pianist was well-known for his flamboyant behavior, ever-present cigar, and trademark derby hat. But in front of the keys, he was also a leading purveyor of the ragtime-based style called Harlem Stride.

Willie 'The Lion' Smith: Stride Piano Master

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