Bob Berg Killed in Car Accident

Tenor saxophonist Bob Berg died Thursday morning in Amagansett, N.Y. when a cement truck collided with his sport utility vehicle. He was 51. His wife, Arja, sustained multiple injuries, including two broken arms and face lacerations, and is currently in care at Southampton Hospital. The recent snowfall that covered parts of the Eastern U.S. contributed to or was perhaps the cause of the accident.

Driving east on Route 27 on Long Island, Berg was hit when the driver of a cement truck in the westbound lane swerved gently to avoid hitting a car that was making a right turn in front of him. The truck skidded fully into the eastbound lane and hit Berg’s vehicle. Berg was pronounced dead at the scene. Though doctors would not disclose any details about his wife’s condition, Southampton Hospital’s chief operating officer, Kevin Spiegel, told Newsday that “She is expected to do well.” The truck driver, Dennis Walker Jr., was uninjured. Authorities have determined that speed was not a factor in the collision’s fatal outcome.

Berg was a native of New York City, born in Brooklyn, and began his career in music in the 1960s, attending the High School of Performing Arts and later the Juilliard School. Originally drawn to the open, modern sound of free jazz, he grew to love the hard bop style and lent his confident sound to the bands of Horace Silver and Cedar Walton in the ’70s. Though Berg’s tone was very much his own, it did call to mind that of Wayne Shorter more than any other saxophonist’s and in 1984 Miles Davis (who employed Shorter in his second quintet) invited Berg to join his band. Since then he has led a successful career as a leader, playing in concert frequently and recording for Denon, GRP and Concord, among other labels.