Running time: 60 min.
Director: Tony Followell
Synopsis: The documentary follows a chronological layout with music samples, acted parts, snatches of interviews from the several Charlie Parker radio interviews, interspersed with interviews with many eminent Parker scholars. Gary Giddins appears and, as usual is wonderfully enthusiastic. His depth of knowledge and understanding on the subject of Charlie and jazz are as profound as they are fascinating, as are his thoughts about the Parker track, 'Koko'.
Chuck Haddix, another Parker academic is also present and his discussions are full of details about Charlie’s life that underlie the vigorous research Haddix carries out in the libraries and archives of Kansas City. This research makes his book Kansas City Jazz such a remarkable document, his viewpoint is fresh and the originality of his work is as exciting as it is informative.
The film also contains archive footage of interviews with people who were part of Charlie’s life, such as Doris Sydnor, filmed in the 1987 talking about her time with Bird; there’s a very short clip of Chan and a marvellous interview with Dizzy Gillespie, who eagerly and openly talks about Charlie and their music. Interviews taken for the film include a delightful Jay McShann retelling the story how Charlie gained his nickname, ‘Yardbird’, (which is still subject to doubt). In addition, such luminaries as James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Ira Gitler, Nat Hentoff, Antonio Hart, Mitch Miller, Phil Woods, Sheila Jordan (Duke’s wife), and Johnnie Garry (ex-manager of Birdland) all add their own slant to the story of Charlie Parker.