There is confirmation that slightly more than a month after he celebrated his 90th birthday, trumpeter Uan Rasey died late last night. Heard on the sound tracks of dozens of motion pictures, Rasey was acclaimed as one of the most gifted trumpet artists of the twentieth century. André Previn, who was Rasey’s colleague in the MGM studio orchestra in the 1940s and ’50s, offered a birthday accolade typical of those who knew and worked with him:
He was not only the best trumpet player working at the film studios in Hollywood, but also a kind and good friend.
For a summary of Rasey’s career and to hear one of his most celebrated solos, go to this Rifftides piece posted on his birthday, when 40 trumpeters appeared outside Rasey’s house to serenade him with “Trumpeter’s Prayer.” His grandson, Tristan Verstraten, told me this evening that his grandfather died peacefully in his sleep at Woodland Hills Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles, where he had been taken after his heart and kidney problems worsened. Three of his children were with him.
Recalling Rasey’s spirit and character, Mr. Verstraten told this story:
When he was 89 years old, he learned that his seven-year-old granddaughter Taylor had no way home from school because her mother had been delayed. Rather than let her wait, possibly for a long time, he called Access Paratransit. Blind and in his wheelchair, he got into the Access van and traveled three miles to the school. When he got there, he wheeled himself into the school, found Taylor and took her home in the van. Then, when they got to the house he fixed her a meal, and when Taylor’s mom got home, she found the two of them partying, having a great time.
There will be no funeral service, Mr. Verstraten said, but a celebration of life, “a shindig,” will be scheduled in a couple of weeks.