Navarro, Fats (actually, Theodore)

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Navarro, Fats (actually, Theodore)

Navarro, Fats (actually, Theodore) jazz trumpeter; b. Key West, Fla., Sept. 24, 1923; d. N.Y., July 7, 1950. Navarro was mostly self-taught, starting piano at age six, trumpet at 13, and also playing tenor sax in Fla. He toured with J. J. Johnson in Snookum Russell’s band (1942) and with Andy Kirk (1943–44). Gillespie recommended him as his replacement in Billy Eckstine’s band in 1945, and he also played with Illinois Jacquet and Lionel Hampton. He recorded with Tadd Dameron and Bud Powell, among others. His career was cut short by tuberculosis, edged on by narcotics usage. Some discographers doubt the date of his last known session, live at Birdland with Parker, because he sounds so good so close to his death, yet it is certainly possible.

Like every trumpeter in the 1940s, Navarro was a disciple of Dizzy Gillespie, and occasionally used double-timing, especially on live broadcasts. More typically he played lyrical, perfectly phrased lines with a big, open tone. He had a marvelous sly way of connecting choruses that was picked up by Clifford Brown, specifically in his “Joy Spring” solo.


Fat Girl (1946); Be Bop Boys (1946); Nostalgia (1947); New Trends of Jazz (1947); New Sounds of Modern Music (1947).


J. Jepsen, Discography of Fats Navarro (Denmark); D. Baker, Jazz Style of Fats Navarro (Hialeah, Fla.).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire

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Navarro, Fats (actually, Theodore)

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