The First Cut
Having won praise in the pages of the Melody Maker and plaudits from diverse a range of players as pianist Gordon Beck and Hawkwind’s Del Dettmar, by the time Major Surgery spent a couple of days in a small studio recording their one and only album in 1976, they’d been a fixture of London’s pub jazz circuit for over five years.
Their rough and ready brew of no-frills grooves courtesy of drummer Tony Marsh and bassist Bruce Collcut, and swirling melodies delivered by (Don Weller (saxes) and Jimmy Roche (guitar). Weller and Roche had worked together before as members of East of Eden (appearing on ‘71s New Leaf) and part of Jamie Muir’s short-lived but legendary pre-King Crimson outfit, Boris.
The results are potent though nothing like as tricksy as their jazz-rock pigeon-holing might imply. Weller has a big sound that’s impressively fearless, rushing at complex, twisting themes with garrulous enthusiasm and is the driving force on the album.
Roche’s guitar playing though originally rooted in blues, scrabbles over inventive runs veering away from generic cliche. There’s a certain frisson emanating from these crackling and energetic first-take performances. Though lacking compositional subtlety it positively bristles with a raucous amped-up period charm that reminds us with a bit of flair and imagination jazz-rock need not be a dry exercise in technique.