Charlie "Yardbird" Parker had been a hero of Clint Eastwood's since childhood, and Eastwood, having been disappointed in such jazz biopics as Young Man with a Horn, really wanted to make a true jazz fan's movie about the music. He cast Forest Whitaker as Parker, the legendary alto sax player, and Diane Venora as Chan, Parker's wife. The film shows how Parker, a genius who changed the face of modern music, was hampered and eventually destroyed by his appetite for women, food, and drugs. The two leads do a great job giving a recognizable human face to the characters' complex relationship. With wit and warmth, Bird tells the story in direct and honest terms, avoiding all sentimentality. Eastwood's love of Parker's music comes across in the tremendous care that he and composer Lennie Niehaus took with reconstructing it, using Parker's original solos. Eastwood and cinematographer Jack N. Green also patterned the dark, moody look of the film after old photos of musicians who used to appear in jazz magazines. Music lovers will be thrilled with the result, and movie lovers will find plenty to engage them in this moving tale of a great man battling his demons.
Baltimore City Paper -- October 24, 2000