Although I have never met or heard him live, I admire guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi. His dedication to art through music, poetry, prose, and drawing has often been a challenging journey. But the music he makes on Earthship belies the depth of his vision, his truth. Teamed on this album with advanced Woodstock- and New York-based players saxophonist/flutist James Finn, pianist John Esposito, bassist Hilliard Green, and drummer Peter O’Brien, Berardi delivers uncompromising expression, melody, energy, and communication. This recording is pure and honest, deeply from of the Coltrane mold, but filled with unique individual thought and original ideas. Berardi’s voice rings most true, he is a seasoned storyteller with invention and wisdom to bestow along the way. Yet there is also plenty of room for the band members to have their say. There is seamless weaving between composition and group improvisation, structure and group invention.
This is a tradition that can only be handed down from master to master. Berardi, almost 70 now, was on the free-jazz scenes with his own Manhattan loft in 1980, the East Village in the ’70s, Chicago in the ’60s. In 1996 he took musicians who honored this tradition, produced this masterwork, then sent his sidemen off to continue their own ascensions. Often I question reviewing a CD that was not recently recorded. The moment I pressed Play my questions were set aside and I just listened. What more could you ask of a CD?