24

Fats Navarro: Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron – The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
There aren't many jazz records I'd consider essential. This is one.

Granted, Fats Navarro isn't in the pantheon of jazz trumpeters. For starters, he didn't live long enough. He died in 1950 at age 26, so his discography is short. For another, Navarro's brief career overlapped that of trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie, and came just before trumpet greats Miles Davis and Clifford Brown. It's hard to stand out in that crowd.

But look closer: Fats Navarro produced some fantastic bebop alongside the era's greatest players. And he wasn't just a secondary band member. This 2-CD collection is solid proof.

This is jazz in the heart of the bebop era—36 tracks (including 14 alternate takes) recorded from 1947-49. And if it sounds at times like Bird and Diz... well, so what? If you like bebop, you will love these CDs.

On paper, pianist Tadd Dameron was the leader for half of these sessions, and he wrote much of the music, too. But Dameron is truly a background presence; he rarely takes the spotlight. This is an album for fans of trumpets and saxophones, and Navarro's fast, powerful voice is the star of most of these tunes.

These CDs cover seven different recording sessions, so the tone varies from date to date. The Navarro-Dameron cuts are best: pure bebop bliss. They feature saxmen such as Dexter Gordon, Charlie Rouse, Ernie Henry and Wardell Gray, alongside Navarro's trumpet. Another series of cuts feature Bud Powell on piano and Sonny Rollins on sax, in addition to Navarro. Two of my favorite tracks, two takes of "Double Talk," feature a trumpet battle between Navarro and Howard McGhee—barn-burners that remind me of Jazz at the Philharmonic.

And then there are a few odd cuts. Three uninteresting vocals. One cut with a Benny Goodman small group (!). And four Navarro-less tunes with a band that includes Dameron, trombonist J.J. Johnson and a very young Miles Davis.

But this is Fats Navarro's show, and it's a terrific one. If only he had lived longer.

(Note: An alternative to this collection is the more expansive 4-CD set The Fats Navarro Story, which includes a lot of earlier Navarro recordings with such greats as Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Kenny Dorham and Illinois Jacquet, among others, mostly for Savoy.)

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Easy to find, but not cheap

Cost: $22

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music? My Blue Note Obsession My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017
Read Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962 My Blue Note Obsession Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
by Marc Davis
Published: May 14, 2017
Read Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966 My Blue Note Obsession Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973 My Blue Note Obsession Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
by Marc Davis
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958 My Blue Note Obsession Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959 My Blue Note Obsession Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
by Marc Davis
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Sabu Martinez: Palo Congo – 1957" My Blue Note Obsession Sabu Martinez: Palo Congo – 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957" My Blue Note Obsession Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967" My Blue Note Obsession The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967
by Marc Davis
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Javon Jackson: Pleasant Valley – 1999" My Blue Note Obsession Javon Jackson: Pleasant Valley – 1999
by Marc Davis
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Leo Parker: Rollin' With Leo – 1961" My Blue Note Obsession Leo Parker: Rollin' With Leo – 1961
by Marc Davis
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?" My Blue Note Obsession My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor