Doris Day was one of the hottest, sultriest swing band vocalists in music. Her body of work which contains at least one unabashed classic early-'40s recording, "Sentimental Journey" - is one of the most impressive in the fields of swing and popular jazz, and deserves to be heard far more than it is.
In 1939, at the age of 17, Day won the job of vocalist in the band of Bob Crosby, Bing's brother and a star bandleader in his own right. She stayed with Crosby's band for three months before she was approached by band leader Les Brown. Day could impart a feeling of world-weary sensuality or sensual innocence to a song, shading her voice in textures almost too delicate to analyze. And Doris Day became a budding star, in an era in which Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra - not to mention Ella Fitzgerald - were just a few of the vocalists competing for public attention.
It was with Les Brown's band, however, that the public first got to hear her voice and know her name, initially on the radio and then on Brown's recordings. From 1940 until 1946 Day was a star vocalist, most notably on hits like "Sentimental Journey" and "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time," both of which were monster hits for the band.
After having a break across two marriages, Day resumed her recording career in 1947, and even amid the growing number of ballads in her output, her early solo sides remained very jazzy, and are among her best sides. Her music softened somewhat as the 1940s wore on, although she did record some superb jazz-style sides for the 1950 movie Young Man with a Horn. But her most visible sides from the 1950s onward were pop songs. During the 1950s, Doris Day was the most popular and one of the highest paid singers in America.
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