header image 2

As long as we’re talking about great tenor players…

March 9th, 2008 · No Comments

Bob Berg is one of my all time favorite tenor players. The first time I heard him was in 1973 when I listened to Horace Silver’s album “Silver and Brass.” His solos on Barbara, Mysticism and The Sophisticated Hippie were like something I had never heard before. He had such an unusual way of phrasing he caught a lot of flack from the critics. They said things like his style was “awkward and gangly. Indeed. That is exactly what I liked about him. His tone was also very different from anyone else, then and now. His technique was formidable, it seemed as though there was nothing he couldn’t wrestle out of that horn. When he came to San Francisco in 1973 at the Keystone Corner, I of course, went to check him out. Wow! What a show! The front line was Tom Harrell on trumpet and Mr. Berg on tenor. Horace came out in a bright red jacket with a white blouse kind of a shirt with ruffles and flowing cuffs. He was quite resplendent. That was a very memorable performance, for sure. Bob was about 21 or 22, very young. I loved going to the Keystone Corner, I saw so many great players there. You could sit up close and really get an education.

Jumping ahead, in 2002 I sat down at my computer and in my email I see an email from Bob Berg. I’m thinking, yeh, right! Someone is yanking my chain. He wrote me to tell me of his new soprano so I could update my players setups page. He also had good things to say about the site in general. Well, I still wasn’t buying this so I wrote him back and told him I was a huge fan and mentioned the time I saw him and bought him a drink at a gig in San Francisco in 1973. Well, he wrote back and filled in the details I left out. He said, “yeh, that was a great gig at the Keystone Corner with Horace Silver. WOW! You could have knocked me over with a feather! It was really him! Believe it or not (I did save the emails) we started emailing each other talking about stuff sax players talk about. He told me he found a Mark VI that was literally never played. He said he didn’t care about the appearance of the horn but he told me this horn was a real player. We also discovered that we were both fisherman. He sent me a few pics of him surf casting on Long Island and I sent him a few pics of me fly fishing. I just could not believe that here I was talking with one of my all time favorite musicians on this planet like we were pals or something.

One day during this exchange I tuned in to the sax newsgroup and saw a header that said” Bad news about Bob Berg,” It was like getting punched in the gut, I just knew this wasn’t going to be good. I then learned he died in a car crash in Long Island. He was hit by a truck that skidded out of control in the ice and snow. The driver of the truck was, sadly, a friend of Bob’s. I was totally grief struck. Just when life is getting good for him and he is on top of his game. Life really is not fair sometimes.

If you are not familiar with Bob’s extensive discography, you should really check him out. He is one of the all time great tenor players.

His website can be found here: http://www.bobberg.com/

Here are just a couple of YouTube videos I found.

Here is a master class on how to play in a quartet setting. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Chick Corea – Piano
Eddie Gomez – Bass
Steve Gadd – Drums
Bob Berg – Tenor Sax

Here is Bob playing one of his own tunes, “Friday Night at the Cadillac Club” with guitarist Mike Stern.

Sheer genius.

Here’s one more worth checking out.

The real pity is that most people who see this will never realize what is really happening here. This is sheer genius. Most people will never know.

Bob Berg will live on.

Bob Berg
1951- 2002

Tags: Life in B flat

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment