Bassist Sammy Webber has not let his visual impairment curb a career in jazz music. Harnessing the genius of carefully placed LED lighting, the 57-year-old musician is able to make magic on his bass guitar.
The first track on the Cape Jazz CD features the local bassist, singer and composer.
Webber, from Retreat, who started playing guitar at 19, has made a name for himself over the past 30 years, performing with numerous bands, including Inside Out, U-Turn, Funtime, and Virtual Jazz Reality.
His contribution to the new CD – Oboe Street – was taken off his first album Happy, released in 2003. It pays homage to the street on which he grew up.
“The song is about Retreat. I’m proud to be associated with the area. I consider myself to be a homeboy,” he said.
The musician is recording his untitled third solo album. He admitted that producing music has become increasingly difficult since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
In 2010, the performer experienced rapid eyesight loss.
Webber, however, has not let the progressive disease get him down, resorting to creative ways to improve his performance.
“I’m a bassist, often backing artists so my eyesight doesn’t impact my performance that much. However, solo performances where I really need to see what I’m playing is what I struggle with.
“In the past year, I had lights installed on the neck of my guitar, which helps quite a bit as the lights shine quite brightly. It adds to my stage presence too,” he said.
Webber is proud of his bright LED-lit Warwick guitar.
He told the Cape Argus that a friend helped him with the idea of installing lights in a tube on the guitar’s neck.
His autographed German Warwick bass guitar, number six of 281 in the world, is one of his prized possessions.
“My friend and I located an international company that puts these special lights in a tube. We had to send them the specs of the guitar in order for my friend to install it.
“I did not want the lights to be drilled into the guitar because it’s a limited edition with a neck of Bubinga wood and would be damaged,” he said.
• Original songs from local musicians such as Webber, Jonathan Rubain, TopDog SA and Claire Phillips will be featured on a Cape Jazz CD, available today with street sale purchases of the Cape Argus and Cape Times. Aimed at jazz fans, the release of the CD coincides with the 17th Cape Town International Jazz Festival.