Fats Navarro

Dameronia

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Tragically, Fats Navarro epitomized the stereotype of the heroin-addicted bebopper who lived fast and died young. The trumpeter's potential was enormous, but like so many of his colleagues Navarro allowed heroin to rob him of what should have been a very long career. One can only speculate on the things Navarro would have accomplished had tuberculosis (a condition that his heroin addiction made him more vulnerable to) not claimed his life at the age of 26 in 1950, but we do know this much: Navarro's contributions to jazz were enormous. Navarro was Clifford Brown's primary influence, which means that his big, fat, brassy sound had a direct or indirect influence on everyone from Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Carmell Jones, to Woody Shaw and Roy Hargrove. Focusing on Navarro's 1947 and 1948 work, this French release of 1999 boasts some of early bop's finest, most influential trumpet playing. While "Our Delight," "The Squirrel," "Dameronia," "Lady Bird," and "The Chase" are among the well known classics that find Navarro being employed as a sideman by pianist Tadd Dameron, Navarro co-leads a sextet with fellow trumpeter Howard McGhee on "Double Talk," and leads various groups of his own on exuberant gems that include "Fat Girl," "Fats Blows," "Bebop Romp," and "Barry's Bop." The sound quality is generally decent (by 78-era standards), and Navarro's virtuosity is stunning despite the toll that heroin was taking on his body. Dameronia 1947/48 is enthusiastically recommended to anyone with even a casual interest in early bebop.

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