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Published on Apr 4, 2008
Sangeeta Michael Berardi, guitarist; b. Waterbury, CT, 2 September 1939. He began playing guitar at age ten, and gigging at about 14, but his musical progress was delayed by family troubles in his junior year of high school and he was arrested for armed robbery at 18. While there, he resumed the guitar and on his release in 1960 began gigging at Providence College and elsewhere while attending the University of Connecticut., eventually getting a degree in English. In 1963 he moved to Chicago where he worked with Baby Face Willette and Joe Diorio, with whom he studied informally. In 1964 he was back in Connecticut, where he studied with Bertram Turetzky, then from 1965-8 he led bands in Manhattan with Perry Robinson, Dewey Johnson, and others while studying with Ronnie Ball. In 1968-9 he led groups in Woodstock, New Paltz and Manhattan, and co-led bands with Sonny Simmons and with Sunny Murray. In the spring to fall of 1968 he was the music director at Group 212, a multimedia arts cooperative near Woodstock, bringing Archie Shepp, Murray and many others and paving the way for the Creative Music Studio. He appeared at Manhattan loft festivals (1970-1972) with his own groups and co-led one with Marzette Watts at the East Village Inn, and played in the groups of David Izenson, Roswell Rudd (including a 1971 appearance with the Jazz Composer's Orchestra), and Alice Coltrane. In 1972 he began a weekly concert/workshop series on the SUNY New Paltz campus, later moving to San Francisco where he led bands and performed with Shepp and Pharoah Sanders. From 1975 he became heavily involved with yoga and the music of India. In 1980 he moved back to N.Y. and opened up his 7th Avenue loft as a workshop/performance space featuring Rashied Ali, Sanders, Dave Schnitter, Joe Lovano, and many others until the building closed in 1984. In 1985 he appeared in San Francisco with Shepp, from 1985-1988 was taking a leave from music in Connecticut making prose, poems, and drawings, and from 1988-1993 he was in El Cerrito, Ca., making occasional appearances. Back on the East Coast, a severe back injury curtailed his playing during 1994-1995 but in 1996 he began performing again. He lives in El Cerrito, Ca.