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Duos at Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Clark Terry

Fifty-two years ago Theodore “Fats” Navarro died in New York at the age of 26 of tuberculosis and heroin addiction. Andy Kirk, in whose the Clouds of Joy Orchestra Navarro had played in 1943, paid for the funeral expenses and asked the funeral director to choose the burial ground. It was the Rose Hill Cemetery in Linden, N.J.

Forty-seven years later Stuart Varden, an admirer of Navarro’s, finding Internet information about his favorite trumpeter inadequate, created a Web site. In seeking to photograph Navarro’s headstone for posting he discovered an unmarked grave. On his Web site he talked of erecting a headstone and received an e-mail from Fats’ daughter, Linda Navarro, in Seattle. The campaign gathered momentum. Theo Rehak (a distant cousin is the late trombonist Frank Rehak) came aboard. Rehak, who since 1966 has collected images of Fats in what he calls L’Archive Navarro, is currently collaborating on a Navarro biography with Danish trumpeter/scholar Leif Bo Petersen.

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