Nicole Mitchell performs at the Kennedy Center. Margot Schulman/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center hide caption

itoggle caption Margot Schulman/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Matt Ulery performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in August 2013. Chloe Coleman/Chloe Coleman/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Chloe Coleman/Chloe Coleman/NPR

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis performs his Abyssinian Mass in 2008. Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Charlie Parker started playing as a boy, when his mother gave him a saxophone to cheer him up after his father left. He went on to spearhead a musical revolution. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Chris Lightcap performs at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. R.R. Jones/Courtesy of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center hide caption

itoggle caption R.R. Jones/Courtesy of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center

Keyboardist and producer Bob James' 1970s work helped to establish the sound of smooth jazz — and lives on in hip-hop samples galore. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, has started a foundation dedicated to music education in New Orleans. Jonathan Mannion/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Jonathan Mannion/Courtesy of the artist

Geof Bradfield's suite traces Melba Liston's (pictured) life story through her work with Dizzy Gillespie and Randy Weston. Courtesy of Institute Of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Institute Of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University

Melissa Aldana, 24, took after her father in pursuing jazz saxophone. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

From left: pianist Ethan Iverson, drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath and bassist Ben Street. John Rogers/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption John Rogers/Courtesy of the artist

Ravi Coltrane's favorite tune off his most recent album, Spirit Fiction, was written by longtime collaborator Ralph Alessi. Deborah Feingold/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Deborah Feingold/Courtesy of the artist

The Pedrito Martinez Group's self-titled album comes out Oct. 8. Petra Richterova/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Petra Richterova/Courtesy of the artist

For three years, jazz musician Vijay Iyer has worked with poet and performer Mike Ladd to set the words of war veterans to music. The resulting album, released earlier this month, is called Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist