Personalities | Fats Navarro | Forties | Jazz & Blues
Theodore ‘Fats’ Navarro died prematurely and left a limited recorded legacy, most of it as a sideman. Nonetheless, he stood alongside Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis as one of the most significant trumpeters in bebop. He took over Gillespie’s chair in Billy Eckstine’s seminal big band in 1945, and enjoyed a brief but creative relationship with pianist and arranger Tadd Dameron in 1948.
Although curtailed, his career saw him work with most of the major bebop artists, including Kenny Clarke, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. His conservative approach to rhythm was balanced by carefully sculpted melody lines and a wealth of harmonic invention, while his burnished tone had a sweetness and richness unusual among the bebop speed merchants. His recordings for Blue Note as a sideman were gathered in two volumes as The Fabulous Fats Navarro (1947). He died of tuberculosis, exacerbated by his heroin addiction.
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