I prefer instrumental arrangements, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, etc., for times that I need quiet solitude, times when I want to be pensive. When I want to just close my eyes and listen to a story, I prefer vocals, particularly Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald. Sometimes, the improvisation gets a little to raucous for me, but I suspect that over time, I will come to appreciate that more.
A lot of modern music fans find jazz old, trite, and pretentious. Yet this music laid the groundwork for so many modern genres; I feel like if they would just look a little closer they would see that. I got my first taste of jazz as a child, courtesy of the Cosby Show, of all places. With that first taste, I was hooked.
I hope you enjoy a sampling of some of the more recognizable standards and best known vocals in the business. And listen closely to see if you can hear a hint of modernity.