Theodore "Fats" Navarro (September 24, 1923 – July 7, 1950) was an American jazz trumpet player. He was a pioneer of the bebop style of jazz improvisation in the 1940s. He had a strong stylistic influence on many other players, including Clifford Brown.
Fats Navarro, c. 1947. Photo by William P. Gottlieb.
|Birth name||Theodore Navarro|
|Also known as||Fats, Fat Girl|
|Born||September 24, 1923|
Key West, Florida, U.S.
|Died||July 7, 1950 26) (aged|
New York City, New York
|Associated acts||Billy Eckstine, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Gil Evans, Andy Kirk, Charles Mingus, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Kenny Clarke|
Navarro was born in Key West, Florida, of Cuban, African, and Chinese descent. He began playing piano at age six, but did not become serious about music until he began playing trumpet at the age of thirteen. He was a childhood friend of drummer Al Dreares. By the time he graduated from Douglass High School, he wanted to be away from Key West and joined a dance band headed for the Midwest.
Tiring of the road life after touring with many bands and gaining valuable experience, including influencing a young J. J. Johnson when they were together in Snookum Russell's territory band, Navarro settled in New York City in 1946, where his career took off. He met and played with, among others, Charlie Parker, one of the greatest musical innovators of modern jazz improvisation. But Navarro was in a position to demand a high salary and did not join one of Parker's regular groups. He also developed a heroin addiction, tuberculosis, and a weight problem. (He was nicknamed "Fat Girl" due to his weight and high speaking voice.) These afflictions led to a slow decline in his health and death at the age of twenty-six. Navarro was hospitalized on July 1 and died in the evening of July 6, 1950. His last performance was with Charlie Parker on July 1 at Birdland.
Navarro played in the Andy Kirk, Billy Eckstine, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton big bands, and participated in small group recording sessions with Kenny Clarke, Tadd Dameron, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Howard McGhee, and Bud Powell.
Navarro died of tuberculosis and heroin addiction in New York City on July 6, 1950, and was survived by wife Rena (née Clark, 1927–1975), his daughter Linda (1949-2014), grandson, Amilcar Navarro, a filmmaker and his sister Delores. He was buried in an unmarked grave, number 414, at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.
In 1982, Navarro was inducted into the DownBeat Hall of Fame.
In September 2002, friends and family members had dedicated a headstone for Fats Navarro's grave. The event of dedication was sponsored by the Jazz Alliance International while the day of it was proclaimed as Fats Navarro Day by the mayor of Linden.
During the ceremony, Linden High School Choir performed "Amazing Grace", while trumpeter Jon Faddis played Navarro's "Nostalgia". The night of the same day, 14 trumpeters joined a stellar rhythm section to honor the Navarro songbook at the Jazz Standard in Manhattan. Faddis, who assembled the section under musical direction from Don Sickler, was accompanied by drummer Billy Drummond, bassist Peter Washington, and pianist James Williams.
- Andy Kirk - "Fare Thee Well Honey" c/w "Baby, Don't You Tell Me No Lie" (Decca 4449)
- Andy Kirk and his Orchestra Live at the Apollo 1944-1947 (Everybody's EV 3003)
- Andy Kirk - Andy's Jive (Swing House (E) SWH 39)
- The Uncollected Andy Kirk - Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy (Hindsight (E) HSR 227)
- Andy Kirk and his Orchestra (no details) (Caracol (F) CAR 424)
- Andy Kirk and his Orchestra (no details) (Swing House (E) SWH 130)
- Billy Eckstine - Together (Spotlite (E) SPJ 100)
- Billy Eckstine - Blues for Sale (EmArcy MG 36029)
- Billy Eckstine - The Love Songs of Mr. "B" (EmArcy MG 36030)
- V.A. - The Advance Guard of the '40s (EmArcy MG 36016)
- Billy Eckstine - You Call It Madness (Regent MG 6058)
- Billy Eckstine - Prisoner of Love (Regent MG 6052)
- Andy Kirk - "He's My Baby" c/w "Soothe Me" (Decca 23870)
- Andy Kirk - "Alabama Bound" c/w "Doggin' Man Blues" (Decca 48073)
- Billy Eckstine - My Deep Blue Dream (Regent MG 6054)
- Billy Eckstine - I Surrender, Dear (EmArcy MG 36010)
- V.A. - Boning Up the 'Bones (EmArcy MG 36038)
- Billy Eckstine - Mr. B and the Band (Savoy SJL 2214)
- V.A. - The Bebop Era (RCA Victor LPV 519)
- Fats Navarro Memorial - Fats - Bud - Klook - Sonny - Kinney (Savoy MG 12011)
- Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 2 - Burning in U.S.A., 53-55 (Mythic Sound MS 6002-2)
- Fats Navarro Memorial, Vol. 2 - Nostalgia (Savoy MG 12133)
- V.A. - In the Beginning Bebop! (Savoy MG 12119)
- Coleman Hawkins - Bean and the Boys (Prestige PR 7824)
- Illinois Jacquet and his Tenor Sax (Aladdin AL 803)
- V.A. - Opus de Bop (Savoy MG 12114)
- Billy Stewart/Ray Abrams - Gloomy Sunday c/w In My Solitude (Savoy 647)
- Milton Buggs/Ray Abrams - I Live True to You c/w Fine Brown Frame (Savoy 648)
- V.A. - Jazz Off the Air, Vol. 2 (Vox VSP 310)
- The Fabulous Fats Navarro, Vol. 1 (Blue Note BLP 1531)
- Fats Navarro - Fat Girl (Savoy SJL 2216)
- Charlie Parker - "Anthropology" (Spotlite (E) SPJ 108)
- Coleman Hawkins - His Greatest Hits 1939-47, Vol. 17 (RCA (F) 730625)
- Coleman Hawkins - Body and Soul: A Jazz Autobiography (RCA Victor LPV 501)
- V.A. - All American Hot Jazz (RCA Victor LPV 544)
- Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra 1948 (Weka (Swt) Jds 12-1)
- Lionel Hampton in Concert (Cicala Jazz Live (It) BLJ 8015)
- Fats Navarro Featured with the Tadd Dameron Quintet (Jazzland JLP 50)
- The Tadd Dameron Band 1948 (Jazzland JLP 68)
- Benny Goodman/Charlie Barnet - Capitol Jazz Classics, Vol. 15: Bebop Spoken Here (Capitol M 11061)
- The Fabulous Fats Navarro, Vol. 2 (Blue Note BLP 1532)
- V.A. - The Other Side Blue Note 1500 Series (Blue Note (J) BNJ 61008/10)
- The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings of Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron (Blue Note CDP 7243 8 33373-2)
- Earl Coleman - I Wished on the Moon c/w Guilty (Dial 756)
- Dexter Gordon on Dial - Move! (Spotlite (E) SPJ 133)
- The Metronome All Stars - From Swing to Be-Bop (RCA Camden CAL 426) - released on Dizzy Gillespie's The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (Bluebird, 1937-1949, )
- Dizzy Gillespie - Strictly Be Bop (Capitol M 11059)
- Jazz at the Philharmonic - J.A.T.P. at Carnegie Hall 1949 (Pablo PACD 5311-2)
- The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1 (Blue Note BLP 1503)
- V.A. - 25 Years of Prestige (Prestige PR 24046)
- Miles Davis/Dizzy Gillespie/Fats Navarro - Trumpet Giants (New Jazz NJLP 8296)
- Don Lanphere/Fats Navarro/Leo Parker/Al Haig - Prestige First Sessions, Vol. 1 (Prestige PRCD 24114-2)
- Charlie Parker - Fats Navarro - Bud Powell (Ozone 4)
- Charlie Parker - One Night in Birdland (Columbia JG 34808)
- Charlie Parker - Bud Powell - Fats Navarro (Ozone 9)
- Hooray for Miles Davis, Vol. 1 (Session Disc 101)
- Miles Davis All Stars and Gil Evans (Beppo (E) BEP 502)
- The Persuasively Coherent Miles Davis (Alto AL 701)
- Hooray for Miles Davis, Vol. 2 (Session Disc 102)
- 1995: The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings of Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron (Blue Note)
- Leonard Feather; Ira Gitler (1999). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 192. ISBN 019532000X.
- Leif Bo Petersen; Theo Rehak (2009). The Music and Life of Theodore "Fats" Navarro: Infatuation. The Scarecrow Press. p. 346. ISBN 0810867214.
- Ira Gitler. Jazz Masters of the Forties. New York: Macmillan. p. 101.
- Carl Woideck (1998). Charlie Parker: His Music and Life. University of Michigan Press. p. 258. ISBN 0472085557.
- "Fats Navarro: 'The Fats Navarro Story'". NPR. August 1, 2001. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Dedicated to Fats Navarro". DownBeat. October 10, 2002.
- "DownBeat Hall of Fame". DownBeat.
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