Fats Navarro

“Fats was a spectacular musician because, in a time when cats arrived on the scene with nothing, he came on with everything: he could read, he could play high and hold anybody's first trumpet chair, he could play those singing, melodic solos with a big beautiful sound nobody could believe at the time, and he could fly in fast tempos with staccato, biting notes and execute whatever he wanted with apparently no strain, everything clear. And every note meant something. You know, there are those kinds of guys who just play a lot of notes, some good, some bad. Fats wasn't one of those. He made his music be about each note having a place and a reason. And he had so much warmth, so much feeling. That's why I said he had everything.”…..Roy Haynes

The story begins in Key West, Florida where Theodore “Fats” Navarro was born of mixed Cuban-Black-Chinese parentage on September 24, 1923. His musical training began early with piano lessons at age six, but he did not start taking music seriously until he took up the trumpet at age thirteen. He became well grounded in the fundamentals of music during his high school years. He also studied tenor saxophone and played briefly with Walter Johnson's band in Miami. After graduating high school, he joined Sol Allbrights's band in Orlando, traveled with him to Cincinnati, took further trumpet lessons from an Ohio teacher, and soon went on the road with Snookum Russell's Indianapolis-based orchestra.

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