NPR's 'Jazz Profiles'This documentary series profiles the legends and legacy of jazz. Hosted by singer Nancy Wilson, the program brings to life the vibrant history of the genre through music, interviews, and commentary. The fascinating stories reflected in this series are very human tales that any news junkie or jazz aficionado can relate to.
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.
Few singers have the emotional depth and versatility of Lincoln, who died Saturday at the age of 80. With a voice capable of evoking the joys and pains of life, she carved out a niche as a singer, songwriter and storyteller for more than 40 years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The scope and breadth of Duke Ellington's compositions were far-reaching, drawing many influences together to create a cohesive and diverse sound. Composing consumed Ellington around the clock, and his musical legacy is a timeless contribution to American music.
Duke Ellington composed some of the most enduring music of the 20th century, producing more than one thousand lasting works. With groundbreaking hits such as "Sophisticated Lady" and "Mood Indigo," Ellington vividly communicated universal ideas, while inventing musical concepts that helped elevate jazz to a sophisticated art form.
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."
"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.
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.