Fats Navarro

image for Fats Navarro
Exhibition Label
Calling Fats Navarro “the best all-around trumpeter of them all,” Dizzy Gillespie declared, “he had everything . . . tone, ideas, execution.” Navarro began honing his technique when touring with regional big bands while still in his teens. He later picked up bebop influences from trumpeter and bandmate Howard McGhee after joining Andy Kirk’s Kansas City–based jazz band (1943). In 1944, Navarro traveled with Kirk’s band to New York City, where he sat in on jam sessions at Minton’s Playhouse, the Harlem nightspot known as “the bebop laboratory.” Tapped to take Gillespie’s place as the principal trumpet soloist with Billy Eckstine’s big band in 1945, Navarro remained with Eckstine for a year before gravitating to smaller bebop ensembles that gave him more freedom to experiment. His recordings as a sideman in groups such as those led by Tadd Dameron, Charlie Parker, and Coleman Hawkins, influenced a host of trumpeters, including Clifford Brown.
Fats Navarro fue “el mejor entre los trompetistas más completos” —dijo Dizzy Gillespie— “lo tenía todo [...] tono, ideas, ejecución”. Navarro comenzó a refinar su técnica en giras con orquestas regionales siendo aún adolescente. En 1943 se unió a la banda de Andy Kirk en Kansas City y absorbió las influencias del bebop gracias a su colega, el trompetista Howard McGhee. En 1944 viajó con la banda de Kirk a New York, donde participó en sesiones de jam en Minton’s Playhouse, local de Harlem conocido como “el laboratorio del bebop”. En 1945 Billy Eckstine lo reclutó para reemplazar a Gillespie como principal trompeta solista en su banda y allí permaneció un año, optando luego por conjuntos más pequeños de bebop que le ofrecían mayor libertad para experimentar. Sus grabaciones como sideman en grupos como los de Tadd Dameron, Charlie Parker y Coleman Hawkins influyeron a un sinnúmero de trompetistas, entre ellos Clifford Brown.
Herman Leonard, 1923 - 2010
Theodore "Fats" Navarro, 1923 - 1950
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© Herman Leonard Photography LLC
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
1948 (printed 1998)
Object number
Equipment\Smoking Implements\Cigarette
Music\Musical instrument\Trumpet
Interior\Performing Arts
Theodore "Fats" Navarro: Male
Theodore "Fats" Navarro: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Trumpet
United States\New York\Kings\New York
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
Image: 37.6 × 30.5cm (14 13/16 × 12")
Sheet: 50.5 × 40.6cm (19 7/8 × 16")
Frame: 71.8 × 56.5 × 3.8 cm (28 1/4 × 22 1/4 × 1 1/2")
National Portrait Gallery