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Picks and Pans Review: Celebrating Bird: the Triumph of Charlie Parker

updated 07/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Mon., July 17, 9 P.M. ET)

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Although factual and respectful to the artist, this 60-minute American Masters profile of the late jazz alto sax pioneer remains an uninvolving, perfunctory affair. His mercurial, messy life was better served in Bird, Clint Eastwood's three-hour dramatic film starring Forest Whitaker as Parker.

In this documentary format, it's hard to match the enigmatic, innovative musician with his music, as only two brief film clips of Parker have survived to give us a chance to see him in action. Still, interviews with esteemed fellow artists like Dizzy Gillespie and two of Parker's ex-wives are informative. What this special does best is make you want to buy Parker's records, to hear some of the magic everyone is talking about.

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