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September in the Rain

     Before September passes I thought we should slip in a September tune and I’ve chosen September in the Rain which I happened to record years ago with clarinetist Herb Hecsh (though in those days he went by his stage name, Herb Hesch) and bassist Skip Johnson.

     Herb and I met thirty years ago when we were playing at Downey’s in Philadelphia.  He later went on to play for many years in the Hunt Room of the Bellevue Stratford (then briefly known as the Fairmont).  Trained at Juilliard, Herb spent the early part of his career playing for the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and freelancing in New York off-season.  He left the clarinet to work in radio and various jobs, but then returned to it later in life to play swing music, firmly under the sway of the twin masters, Goodman and Shaw.  Who else?  The clarinet fell out of favor when be-bop came in, and most reed players went to the saxophones.  A lot of these saxophonists, when doubling on clarinet, never really gave that instrument its due.  But Herb is a real clarinetist and his sound is remarkable, very dark and distinctive and Artie-Shaw-like. (I do not say "Shavian" here, in deference to Herb who thinks that adjective should apply only to George Bernard.)

     I met Skip at Downey’s as well, and he and Herb and I played often over the years. Some client wanted a demo recording of us, so one day in March 1999, we went to a studio and ran through a dozen tunes, pretty much with just one take, as I recall.  Herb was ill-at-ease with a very close microphone placement and felt sub-par about the whole thing, but he has graciously allowed me to post it here. Even granting his reservations, I think it came out pretty well.

     The song was written in 1937 by Harry Warren, with lyrics by Al Dubin and has been recorded by dozens of singers and instrumentalists, even (according to Wikipedia, by The Beatles). Among the vocal recordings, one of the most successful was that done by Dinah Washington.  Like a lot of songs by Warren (I'll String Along with You, There Will Never be Another You), you think, well there’s nothing particularly notable about the melody or the harmony, but somehow you can’t get it out of your head.  Click on the title in red to hear our version.  The lyrics are below.

September in the Rain 

The leaves of brown came tumbling down, remember?

In September, in the rain.

The sun went out just like a dying ember,

That September, in the rain.

To ev’ry word of love I heard you whisper,

The raindrops seemed to play a sweet refrain.

Though spring is here, to me it’s still September,

That September in the rain.


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