"Art of Jazz" Cinema Series: "Bird"

Bird

1988
2 hours 41 mins
Directed by Clint Eastwood

Eastwood produces and directs Bird, a film burnished with the magic of that 1946 concert encounter between legend and future legend and honored with an Academy Award for Best Sound in its spellbinding recreation of a man and his music. Like jazz itself, Bird rings with counterpoints and embellishments. Past and future overlap as the film explores Yardbird's soaring skill and destructive excesses. Charles “Bird” Parker was one of the great fountainheads of jazz, a creator of bebop whose improvisations and joyful discoveries on the saxophone created a sound that is absolutely distinctive. He stood as a bridge between the swing era and the cool, modern jazz of the 1950s, and even as his career collapsed into disarray, his influence continued to grow. At the end, Bird was denied a cabaret license because of his drug use, and couldn’t even play in Birdland, the famous club named after him. But wherever and whenever he did play, other musicians gathered, because he taught them what they were working for. - Roger Ebert