Happy birthday to the bop trumpeter Fats Navarro, good friend of Charles Mingus and a huge influence on Clifford Brown before Navarro's short life ended at just 26.
Our Afro-Cuban-Chinese hero was from Key West and played in Florida and Cincinnati to begin his pro career. To Kansas City in '44, he started playing in the swing band of Andy Kirk before settling in NYC in '46. He joined Billy Eckstine's great band as well as participating in the bebop revolution with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Tadd Dameron, Kenny Clarke and others.
As a bi-lingual Latino, he also spent time jamming with the Cuban bands in NYC. His health problems, due to heroin addiction, weight gain and TB, took over and he was gone much too early. His resourceful, melodic style shone bright in the smaller bebop combos and he could play sparklingly in a high velocity setting. Despite appearing on many records (and all the jam session tapes that have surfaced) he never really made a record under his own name.