Music, School of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-20-2016


A Doctoral Document Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, Major: Music, Under the Supervision of Professor Darryl White. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Russell Zimmer


This study analyzes improvisatory techniques of Theodore “Fats” Navarro (1923-1950). Live improvised solos of the trumpeter from 1949-1950 were examined to better understand the improvisational style through the analysis of transcribed solos. Chapter one gives a brief overview of Navarro’s brief professional career and why he was chosen as the subject of this study. Chapter two sets out the methodology for this study and reviews related literature to the study of Fats Navarro. Chapter three provides a brief background of each performance from which the transcriptions were selected. Chapter four identifies those aspects of his improvisation that occur often harmonically, rhythmically, and melodically. This chapter also identifies particular aspects of Navarro’s improvisations that occur as anomalies. Excerpts are taken from each transcription to illustrate each concept discussed. The final chapter summarizes Navarro’s playing based on the analysis of the selected transcriptions and also reiterates the lasting legacy that Navarro left on jazz trumpeters and the development of the bop style. The appendix includes complete transcriptions in their entirety of the selected solos discussed in this study.

Adviser: Darryl White