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Fats Navarro

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Biography

One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, Fats Navarro had a tragically brief career yet his influence is still being felt. His fat sound combined aspects of Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, and Dizzy Gillespie, became the main inspiration for Clifford Brown, and through Brownie greatly affected the tones and styles of Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Woody Shaw. Navarro originally played piano and tenor before switching to trumpet. He started gigging with dance bands when he was 17, was with Andy Kirk during 1943-1944, and replaced Dizzy Gillespie with the Billy Eckstine big band during 1945-1946. During the next three years, Fats was second to only Dizzy among bop trumpeters. Navarro recorded with Kenny Clarke's Be Bop Boys, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Illinois Jacquet, and most significantly Tadd Dameron during 1946-1947. He had short stints with the big bands of Lionel Hampton and Benny Goodman, continued working with Dameron, made classic recordings with Bud Powell (in a quintet with a young Sonny Rollins) and the Metronome All-Stars, and a 1950 Birdland appearance with Charlie Parker was privately recorded. However, Navarro was a heroin addict and that affliction certainly did not help him in what would be a fatal bout with tuberculosis that ended his life at age 26. He was well documented during the 1946-1949 period and most of his sessions are currently available on CD, but Fats Navarro could have done so much more.

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