The Charlie Parker Quintet with Fats Navarro

From the album “One Night in Birdland,” (1950)

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Theodore “Fats” Navarro was born in Key West, Florida, to Cuban/Black/Chinese parents on September 24, 1923. A piano player by the age of six, Navarro became serious about music when he began playing trumpet at age of thirteen. After high school, he hit the road, joining a dance band headed for the midwest.

Navarro settled in New York City in 1946, and his career took off when he met and played with Charlie Parker, one of the great masters of modern jazz improvisation. He also became addicted to heroin and that, coupled with tuberculosis and a weight problem (he was nicknamed “Fat Girl”) led to a long downward spiral and his early death at the age of twenty-six.

Fats Navarro played with a lot of the big bands, including the Lionel Hampton, Billy Eckstine, Benny Goodman, and Andy Kirk bands, and jammed in small group recording sessions with Tadd Dameron, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Kenny Clarke, Howard McGhee, and Bud Powell.

Navarro was hospitalized on July 1, after a performance with the Charlie Parker Quintet at Birdland. He died the evening of July 7, 1950.

The video features the Charlie Parker Quintet: Fats Navarro (trumpet), Charlie Parker (alto sax), Bud Powell (piano), probably Curly Russell (bass), probably Roy Haynes (drums)

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