Ernani Bernardi was a maverick politician known for battling government waste, hamstringing the city's controversial redevelopment agency and writing some of Los Angeles' landmark political reform laws during his 32 years on the City Council.
The onetime big-band saxophonist retired from the council in July 1993 after serving eight terms — the second-longest tenure after former council President John Ferraro's 35 years in office. Bernardi quit after making an unsuccessful run for mayor, at age 81.
The son of Italian immigrants, Ernani Bernardi was born in the living quarters of a small grocery store his family owned in Standard, Ill. He was raised by his grandmother and father, who taught him how to play the saxophone.
Performing under the name Noni Bernardi, he was a smooth-toned lead alto sax player during the 1930s with such big-band leaders as Benny Goodman and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. Bernardi wrote the arrangements for Tommy Dorsey's recording of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and Goodman's popular "And the Angels Sing." He came to California in 1940 with Kay Kyser's "Kollege of Musical Knowledge," which offered a potpourri of music and gags.