Navarro had a lyrical feeling to his playing to go along with his breathtaking technical facility and his high note ability which he used sparingly but with great effect. Navarro achieved considerable popularity with the jazz public and was highly admired by both critics and fellow musicians. He also was a Metronome jazz poll winner for 1948 which led to an appearance on a Metronome All Stars recording date.It would have been a natural step for him to form his own group, but he showed no inclination to do so.
Navarro left a legacy of about 150 recorded sides of phenomenal consistent quality. In 1982, he was elected by the International Jazz Critics into the Down Beat Hall of Fame. He was a major influence on Clifford Brown and through him Navarro has indirectly influenced so many of the trumpeters playing today as Benny Bailey, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Sam Noto and Woody Shaw.
“Fats was a spectacular musician because, in a time when cats arrived on the scene with nothing, he came on with everything: he could read, he could play high and hold anybody’s first trumpet chair, he could play those singing, melodic solos with a big beautiful sound nobody could believe at the time, and he could fly in fast tempos with staccato, biting notes and execute whatever he wanted with apparently no strain, everything clear. And every note meant something. You know, there are those kinds of guys who just play a lot of notes, some good, some bad. Fats wasn’t one of those. He made his music be about each note having a place and a reason. And he had so much warmth, so much feeling. That’s why I said he had everything,” states legendary jazz drummer, Roy Haynes.
Somewhere along the way, Fats contracted tuberculosis, which led to a sharp decline in his health and a curtailing of his musical activity over the last seventeen months of his life. Theodore “Fats” Navarro died on July 6, 1950 in a New York City hospital.