Doris Day (1922-2019)

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Doris Day, whose melting pop vocals on records and pert sunny image in movies in the 1940s, '50s and '60s made her both a successful multimedia star and a national dart board, died May 13. She was 97.

While Day's image was an ideal for many American women coming of age after World War II, it also came to personify '50s conformity and good-girl subservience. Both of these images would be held up to ridicule in the tumultuous 1960s, when the pill arrived and a generation rebelled against these virtues. By then, the name “Doris Day" unfairly became code for repressed and uptight. 

Though Day's song choices on albums weren't always the best and she tended to sing each one identically, her voice was as beautiful as a jewelry box. Her intonation and phrasing were perfect and seemingly effortless as she held notes with a slight powdery vibrato. To be fair, the quality of her albums often depended on who arranged and produced. 

Unlike many of her singing peers, Day appeared to have little interest in recording jazz, and arrangers typically steered clear of sexy swing bands. Instead, she stuck with the kittenish pop style that brought her to the dance. Despite her jazzy years with Les Brown in the 1940s and her co-starring role with Kirk Douglas in Young Man With a Horn (1950), a film inspired by the life of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, Day never revealed an earthy side in a song the way peers such as Patti Page and Kay Starr did.

Most of Day's albums were bland and predictable, but a few stand out (like the one above) and will appeal to jazz ears. Here are my favorite clips by Day on albums and in film:

Here's Day in Young Man With a Horn, co-starring Kirk Douglas...



Here's another clip, with Douglas's trumpet dubbed by Harry James...



Here's Day with a crafty Paul Weston mid-tempo arrangement of There Will Never Be Another You on the album Day by Day in 1956...



Here's For All We Know from my favorite Doris Day album, The Love Album (1967)...



Here's Street of Dreams from the same album...



And here's my other favorite Day album, Latin for Lovers (1965), in its entirety...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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