Bird is a 1988 American biographical film, produced and directed by Clint Eastwood of a screenplay written by Joel Oliansky. The film is a tribute to the life and music of jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker. It is constructed as a montage of scenes from Parker's life, from his childhood in Kansas City, through his early death at the age of thirty-four.
The film moves back and forth through Parker's history, blending moments to find some truth to his life. Much of the movie revolves around his only grounding relationships with wife Chan Parker, Bebop pioneer trumpet player and band leader Dizzy Gillespie, and his influence (both musically and into the world of heroin addiction) on trumpet player Red Rodney.
Forest Whitaker as Charlie "Bird" Parker
Diane Venora as Chan Parker
Michael Zelniker as Red Rodney
Samuel E. Wright as Dizzy Gillespie
Keith David as Buster Franklin
Diane Salinger as Baroness Nica
Michael McGuire as Brewster
James Handy as Esteves
Damon Whitaker as Young Bird
Morgan Nagler as Kim
Arlen Dean Snyder as Dr Heath
Sam Robards as Moscowitz
Penelope Windust as Bellevue Nurse
Glenn Wright as Alcoholic Patient (as Glenn T. Wright)
George Orrison as Patient with Checkers
Bill Cobbs as Dr Caulfield
Initially, when Columbia owned the project, the studio executives wanted to hire musicians to re-record all of Parker's music, largely because most of the original recordings were in mono, and considered of insufficient sound quality to accompany a feature film. Eastwood had some recordings of Parker made by Parker's wife, Chan, from which he had a sound engineer electronically isolate Parker's solos. Contemporary musicians such as Ray Brown, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, Barry Harris and Red Rodney were then hired to record backing tracks on modern sound equipment. Dizzy Gillespie was on tour at the time of recording, so trumpet player Jon Faddis was hired to record his parts.