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Tribute to Legendary Trumpeter

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From the Jazz Alliance International:

    A Tribute to Fats Navarro, a trumpet
    player extravaganza benefit concert, will be held at The Jazz Standard in
    New York City on Tuesday, September 24 at 8:00 PM. A virtual who¹s who of
    jazz trumpeters set to perform include Jon Faddis (Artistic Director for the
    event), Randy Brecker, Cecil Bridgewater, Tom Harrell, Sean Jones, Brian
    Lynch, Jimmy Owens, Jeremy Pelt, Claudio Roditi, Jim Rotondi, Don Sickler,
    Lew Soloff, and Clark Terry with an all-star rhythm section assembled by JAI
    Board Member, Geri Allen.

    Tickets are $55 and seating is limited. For ticket information, contact The
    Jazz Standard at (212) 576-2232. This concert, which will benefit a newly
    established scholarship in honor of the legendary Bebop trumpeter, is part
    of a day-long celebration of Fats Navarro and his contribution to the
    evolution of jazz. Proceeds will benefit the Theodore “Fats” Navarro
    Scholarship, to be awarded to outstanding Cuban student musicians to attend
    the Skidmore College and Manhattan School of Music Summer Jazz Institutes.

    The impetus for the event will be the dedication of a headstone at the Rose
    Hill Cemetery (Routes 1 & 9) in Linden, New Jersey, where Mr. Navarro was
    buried in 1950. The dedication will take place on September 24, 2002, at
    11:00 AM, the 79th anniversary of Fats Navarro’s birth.

    According to JAI Board Member and Linden, NJ native, Glen Barros (Concord
    Records), “Linden Mayor John T. Gregorio and his office have been extremely
    enthusiastic and cooperative to ensure that the city gives this event the
    recognition and dignity it deserves.”

    The dedication of the headstone is the realization of a longstanding goal of
    Linda Navarro, Fats’ daughter. The project began when Stuart Varden, a
    lover of Fats’ music for over 40 years, discovered in 1997 that very little
    information about Fats could be found on the Web. He decided to create a
    Web page in tribute to him. When Mr. Varden went to photograph the
    headstone for the web page, he discovered that the grave was unmarked. He
    offered his services through the official Web site to help raise funds.
    When he received an email from Linda Navarro expressing her interest in
    providing an appropriate marker, the two joined forces to raise the money.
    They were eventually joined by Theo Rehak who maintains an archive of
    Navarro images started in 1966, called L’Archive Navarro. Mr. Rehak is
    currently writing a biography on Fats with Danish trumpeter/scholar Leif Bo
    Petersen. Through the web site, the team raised over $3,000 for the
    headstone with twenty-six contributors from five countries donating from $5
    to $500.

    Theodore Navarro was born in Key West, Florida on September 24, 1923. His
    heritage was African, Cuban and Chinese. He began playing trumpet at the
    age of 13, joining Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy in 1943. Upon Dizzy
    Gillespie’s recommendation, Billy Eckstine hired him in 1945 with whose band
    he played for 18 months. He was nicknamed “Fat Girl” (the title of one of
    his records) or “Fats”.

    Writing in his Encyclopedia of Jazz, Leonard Feather stated that most of the
    musicians associated with the Bop era of the 1940s ranked Fats with Dizzy
    Gillespie and Miles Davis as one of the gifted and original stylists in the
    development of jazz. According to Stuart Varden, “When Navarro died on July
    7, 1950 in New York City, Andy Kirk asked funeral director Leroy Butler to
    purchase an appropriate grave site in the NYC area. Andy was like a father
    to Fats and paid for all the funeral expenses. The Rose Hill Cemetery in
    Linden, New Jersey was an old established cemetery and had a section with a
    prominent history of African-American internments. It is also the place
    where the Lindbergh baby is buried.”

    Earlier this year, Maxine Gordon approached Blue Note President and JAI
    Board Chairman Bruce Lundvall to assist with the project, at which time the
    Jazz Alliance International decided to establish the Fats Navarro
    Scholarship. The decision to assist Cuban music students was to both
    recognize the exceptional talent coming out of Cuba and pay tribute to Fats
    Cuban heritage. According to JAI President Chuck Iwanusa, “Through this
    scholarship initiative, we hope to provide a living tribute to one of the
    legendary contributors to our national American treasure.”

    The Jazz Alliance International is dedicated to expanding the audience and
    visibility of Jazz. Over the past year, the Jazz Alliance International
    raised $44,000 for the Jazz Foundation of America’s Musicians’ Emergency
    Fund as well as producing Made In America: An all-star benefit concert
    honoring the heroes and victims of September 11 that raised over $260,000
    for lower income residents effected by the tragedy.

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