Cabaret Composer and Pianist Murray Grand Is Dead at 87

Obituaries   Cabaret Composer and Pianist Murray Grand Is Dead at 87
 
Murray Grand, a composer and pianist who was a fixture of New York's cabaret scene for decades, died March 7 in Santa Monica at the age of 87.

During his heyday, Mr. Grand played at such night spots as Upstairs at the Downstairs, the Village Green, and the Fireside Inn. He also composed tunes for a number of revues, including Broadway's Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952 and New Faces of 1956. For the latter, he wrote "Hurry," "April in Fairbanks" and "Rouge." The last two were introduced by Jane Connell.

For the 1952 revue, he penned "Guess Who I Saw Today," which is his best-know song, having been recorded by the likes of Eydie Gorme, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae and Toni Tennille. Sarah Vaughan's rendition is in the collection of "25 most important night club songs of all time" in an anthology recorded by the Smithsonian. The story song told of a housewife who, while in town, catches her husband cheating. The bitingly civilized opening verse runs:

You're so late getting home from the office
Did you miss your train?
Were you caught in the rain?
No, don't bother to explain

According to the book "Intimate Nights," reported the New York Sun, Mr. Grand was largely responsible for producing Four Below, a show at the Downstairs Room which featured the skits and songs of the pre-Fantasticks Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, and which the book described as "the first legitimate café revue in New York City." Though impresario Julius Monk is usually credited with creating Four Below, "Intimate Nights" contends that he stole much of the credit from Mr. Grand.

His other Off-Broadway composing credits include the show Chic. In 1988, he performed a selection of his songs in the revue Grand Slam at the club Don't Tell Mama. "There are distant echoes of the style of Cole Porter in many of his songs," wrote the New York Times, "and Mr. Grand's manner of singing and his appearance — a bald head and hooded eyes peering over a keyboard — are reminiscent of Dwight Fiske, whose arch delivery of a report on the wedding night of a Mrs. Pettibone was a supper-club favorite of the 1930's and 40's." Others songs of his include "Thursday's Child," which was recorded by Eartha Kitt "Come By Sunday"; and "Not A Moment Too Soon," recorded by Peggy Lee.

Mr. Grand was born in Philadelphia in 1919. He began playing private clubs will still in his teens. During World War II, he accompanied Betty Grable and Gypsy Rose Lee at USO events. After the war, he studied at Juilliard. At the time of his death, he was working on a memoir.

Donations may be made to The Songwriters Guild of America, 6430 Sunset Blvd., #705, Hollywood, CA 90028, and The Actors' Fund of America, 729 Seventh Avenue, l0th Fl., New York, NY 10019.

Mr. Grand leaves no survivors.

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