More From NPR's 'Jazz Profiles'

Jay 'Hootie' McShann: Kansas City Swingman

"Hootie" to his friends, bluesman supreme Jay McShann served as the living legacy to Kansas City jazz. As bandleader, pianist, singer and composer, McShann was an unsung yet influential figure. During the '40s, his orchestra became an important launching pad for prominent soloists including Charlie Parker.

Jay 'Hootie' McShann: Kansas City Swingman

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Ernestine Anderson performs at the Windsor Jazz Festival in 1966. David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

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Ernestine Anderson: A Natural At The Blues

One of the most versatile vocalists from the big band era, Anderson had an earthy, gritty style.

Ernestine Anderson: A Natural At The Blues

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Buddy DeFranco in 1947. William Gottlieb/Library Of Congress hide caption

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Buddy DeFranco: The Clarinetist Who Swung To Bebop

A brilliant jazz improviser who toured with Count Basie and Billie Holiday, DeFranco devised many new paths for his instrument as small-group bebop overtook the big bands of the Swing Era.

Buddy DeFranco: The Clarinetist Who Swung To Bebop

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Charlie Parker. STF/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Charlie Parker: 'Bird Lives!' Part 2

After Charlie Parker returned to New York in 1947, he would finally find fame. Ever the innovator, he sought to expand upon his bebop breakthrough for the rest of his musical career.

Charlie Parker: 'Bird Lives!' Part 2

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In Memoriam, James Moody

He was a virtuoso musician, known for his work on multiple saxophones and flute. He was also a man who radiated love -- when you met him, he'd hold you tight and kiss you on both cheeks as if you were old friends. Romantic, witty and earthy, his sound was an extension of his personality.

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Oscar Peterson's recording career lasted more than 60 years, spanning hundreds of albums as a leader or sideman. Central Press/Getty Images hide caption

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Oscar Peterson: Piano Master

The famed virtuoso commanded the entire keyboard with incredible dexterity, drive and precision, while performing around the world for more than 50 years, accruing countless honors, awards and critical accolades.

Oscar Peterson: Piano Master

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Tito Puente, performing in 1983. AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Tito Puente: 'El Rey'

He was a dynamic percussionist, a masterful arranger and an irrepressible showman. Throughout a career lasting more than 50 years, Puente fused American jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms, earning him the title King of Latin Music.

Tito Puente: 'El Rey'

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The singer's simple and exquisite vocal style defined her dynamic and successful career. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Rosemary Clooney: An American Treasure

For more than fifty years, Rosemary Clooney's simple and exquisite singing style defined her dynamic career. She also appeared in movies and had a star turn on television, but it was her successful and inspired music that cemented her reputation as one of America's finest jazz-based vocalists.

Rosemary Clooney: An American Treasure

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Illinois Jacquet's wild, screeching and full-toned style heralded a new approach to the tenor saxophone. Willaim P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

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Illinois Jacquet: King Of The Screeching Tenor

Bandleader Illinois Jacquet was recognized as the king of the tenor saxophone. During his long career, Jacquet played with everyone from Basie to Lionel Hampton and gained notoriety for his wild, honking solo in "Flying Home," which heralded a new approach to playing known as the "Texas tenor style."

Illinois Jacquet: King Of The Screeching Tenor

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Al Grey used a plumber's implement to perfect a unique trombone style. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

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Al Grey: The Last Big Time Plunger

Trombonist Al Grey was highly regarded as "the last of the big time plungers" thanks to his skill at using a plumber's plunger to manipulate tones coming from the bell of his trombone. Grey rose to prominence as a soloist and gifted accompanist to singers, developing a unique style playing in the bands of Lionel Hampton and Count Basie.

Al Grey: The Last Big Time Plunger

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