Sunday, September 16, 2007

RAY Not George

Last night , songwriter-pianist-comic-social commentator-bon vivant-master parodist-Einstein lookalike Ray Jessel recorded his forthcoming (second) CD, "The Next Seventy Years" at L.A.'s Steinway Hall. I first heard Ray a couple of years ago. As such, I am probably the last on my block to get hip to him. He made me laugh then and he made me do so even louder last night. As an alien from the planet of the goyim, where we neither scream at one another or hug, it's not easy to get me to guffaw out loud, but Jessel can do it. He is a terrific entertainer.

One of his new songs is a lament about lost love for a "girl" who has panache, style, flair etc. but, alas, something, um, extra that's not usually found in persons of that gender. In other words, technically she is a he. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Not since the great Abe Burrows' "Girl With the Three Blue Eyes," "Boulder Dam"and "Upper Peabody," etc.

Something of a novice at performing, 77-year-old Jessel only began doing his act about five years ago. That might explain why he has not quite been elevated to the status of national treasure. . .yet. But he is no stranger to writing for the stage and TV. Here is a bio and list of some of his credits. They stretch back to at least 1960 when he wrote and co-wrote the following two songs for the legendary Julius Monk's revue "Dressed to the Nines": Nanny and Unexpurgated Version (with Marian Grudeff). Performers include Ceil Cabot (Nanny) and Gerry Matthews, Pat Ruhl and Gordon Connell.

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