Wadada Leo Smith finished second in the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, separated by only 12 points from surprise winner Steve Lehman. Scott Groller/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Scott Groller/Courtesy of the artist

Ellis Marsalis celebrates his 80th birthday in concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

itoggle caption Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center

John Coltrane during the recording of A Love Supreme in December 1964. Chuck Stewart/Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History hide caption

itoggle caption Chuck Stewart/Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan doesn't mind that, despite her critical acclaim, she's not a household name. "The people that respect what I do and hire me, that's all I need, you know?" she says. "I just need to keep doing this music as long as I live. " Richard Laird/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Laird/Courtesy of the artist

"There was a lot of tears. There was a lot of anguish," Jimmy Greene says of writing Beautiful Life. Jimmy & Dena Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Jimmy & Dena Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Herbie Hancock and Pharrell Williams performed Williams' hit "Happy" at the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz hide caption

itoggle caption Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz