Lennie Niehaus is a pillar of the jazz scene on America's West Coast, and his composing skills have been utilized frequently by director Clint Eastwood, starting with the 1988 Charlie Parker biopic, "Bird. " Born into a musical family, Niehaus focused on the saxophone and the clarinet as a child. While studying music at college he played in orchestras and, after a stint in the Army in the early '50s, he re-teamed with composer Stan Kenton. By the end of the decade he'd launched his composing career, working for vocal legends Mel Tormé and Dean Martin, and in 1962 he began to work with Jerry Fielding, who at that point was establishing himself as a film and television composer; the two collaborated on over 60 film and television projects before Fielding's death in 1980. Working in orchestration and as a conductor on several comedies and dramas throughout the '80s, Niehaus eventually partnered with Eastwood on "Bird" in 1988, a perfect fit for Niehaus's jazz and film background. This led to work in television, in the music department on the mixed-race family sitcom "True Colors," and more projects with Eastwood, notably on his Oscar winners "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby." The partnership has been rewarding and fruitful for both, as Niehaus went on to work on two more of Eastwood's more successful films, the period piece "Changeling" and the racial drama "Gran Torino."