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Uan Rasey (August 22, 1921 – September 26, 2011) was an American musician, best known for his studio work as a trumpet player. He was first trumpet of the MGM film studios orchestra from 1949 until the early 1970s, and performed on the soundtracks of many motion pictures. As a teacher, Rasey had a reputation as one of the most exacting and inspiring trumpet teachers of his and subsequent generations.
Uan Rasey was born in Glasgow, Montana where his father practiced law and his mother taught piano. Following initial music studies on the violin, he became attracted to the trumpet after listening to early jazz greats including Louis Armstrong, Cootie Williams, Roy Eldridge, and others whom he heard, sometimes weekly, via national radio broadcasts that reached the remote great plains of Eastern Montana. At the age of seven, his family purchased a mail-order trumpet for him from the Montgomery Ward catalog. It came with an instruction booklet, which became his initial guide in learning to play. When he was ten, Rasey contracted polio and spent nearly a year recuperating, but did not let the disease deter him from his passion for music and the trumpet.
He continued with his trumpet studies in his hometown of Glasgow, until his family moved to Los Angeles in 1937, where he began his professional playing career in the road and show bands of Sonny Dunham, Bob Crosby, and other big bands of the swing era as well as working on nationally broadcast radio shows. From 1947 onwards, Rasey worked regularly in Hollywood film studios, and was a pioneer in bringing the raucous and sexy sounds of jazz as well as big band styles into the classical tradition of the film studio orchestra.
In 1949, he became first trumpet with the MGM film studio orchestra, playing on all the major MGM soundtracks from the Golden Age of Hollywood including An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain, Gigi, West Side Story (at United Artists), My Fair Lady (at Warner Bros.), Two for the Seesaw and Bye Bye Birdie (at Columbia Pictures), along with many others. Perhaps his best known soundtrack performance was for the movie Chinatown (1974), featuring trumpet solos that brought him recognition and praise from the film studio community and the general public, an uncommon event in soundtrack recording at that time.
Rasey was expelled twice from the musician’s union for his outspoken support for the working musician, an issue with which he remained actively involved until his death.
He lived in Southern California, where he taught privately and continued to pursue his passion for music and the trumpet. His accomplishments were recognized in May 2009 by the International Trumpet Guild (ITG) with their award of the ITG Honorary Award, the guild's most prestigious award. He performed on nearly every MGM film score from the late 1940s until the early 1970s, along with film scores from many other motion picture studios as he did not work exclusively for MGM. He was highly skilled in all genres of music, from classical to big band lead playing and nearly everything in-between. He is recorded most of the Tom and Jerry cartoons of the 1950s and 60s.
Rasey worked continuously at Capitol Records and other audio recording studios in the Southern California area from the late 1940s until the early 1990s. He was featured playing lead on all tracks, together with other well-known trumpet players, including Pete Candoli, Conrad Gozzo, Shorty Sherock, Mannie Klein and Joe Triscari.