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22 Feb 2017

Major Surgery “The First Cut” 1976 UK Jazz Rock Fusion

Major Surgery “The First Cut” 1976 UK Jazz Rock Fusion

From my point of view, there is a big difference between fusion and jazz rock. Fusion, as typified by bands like Return to Forever or Weather Report, is instrumental rock music played by jazz guys. It would almost seem the perfect marriage of the two genres: Virtuoso players tackling the meatier rock angst and sounds. But like any genre, there are some albums with depth and others that are pretty transparent. Jazz rock, on the other hand, is usually a jazz album with rock instrumentation sprinkled throughout. Fusion was more of a mid to late 1970s thing. Jazz rock was more typical at the turn of the 1970 decade, when the creativity of rock was capturing the imagination of jazzers tiring of the same ole, same ole. Major Surgery is a great example of jazz rock, and very much a sound out of vogue for 1977.

The AC sums up: "Jazz-rock rarity from this largely unknown unit, led by saxophonist Don Weller. He and drummer Tony Marsh would go on to become fairly well-known figures in the UK jazz scene, but of perhaps greater interest to prog fans is that the guitar here is handled by Jimmy Roche, who once played with the great East of Eden. His playing here is in a sort of jumpy, Larry Coryell-esque style that I find highly appealing. This stuff is definitely coming from the jazzier end of the jazz-rock spectrum, and being sax-fronted and lacking any sort of keyboard presence..."

Rekindled in 1972 from the ashes of Boris, a band including saxophonist Don Weller and guitarist Jimmy Roche, Major Surgery added drummer Tony Marsh and electric bassist Bruce Collcutt to the frontline pair and swiftly established a name for themselves in south London, performing regularly in Croydon pubs such as the Dog and Bull and the Gun. They didn’t record until 1976, and The First Cut is the fruit of that session, now reissued with a bonus track, ‘Calypso Reg’.

Their music is a punchy, frequently fiery brand of the then voguish jazz-rock, spinning intense solos from tight, perky riffs (‘Jubileevit’, ‘Foul Group Practices’), setting up relatively complex time signatures for Weller and Roche to explore (‘Dog and Bull Fight’, ‘Shrimpboats’) or simply building climactic hurtles from repeated bass figures (‘Hoe Down Up’), and overall, as the album’s accompanying publicity claims, The First Cut documents ‘a time when four skilled musicians arrived at a small venue, set up their gear and simply went for it’.

The late, great Tony Marsh might be more often celebrated these days for his work with the Westbrooks and for freer music, but here he plays in strict – if occasionally fiendishly complex – time, delivering his signature precise and considered yet often rockingly ebullient drumming; Bruce Collcutt deftly anchors all the wildness going on around him; the frontline pair of Weller and Roche, the former all beefy, sinewy strength, the latter utilising a variety of unusual guitar textures in his intriguing solo excursions, complement each other effectively in what is a pleasingly varied and powerful programme. A valuable record of an undersung Chris Parker.........

Major Surgery were a pioneering quartet from British jazz-rock's early days in the 1970s, with south London saxophonist Don Weller their dominant voice. With their quickwitted and canny takes on soul-jazz, Latin music and reggae, they deserved more of a recording life – but this was their only album, now reissued for the first time since a single pressing of 500 vinyl discs by producer Malcolm Mills in 1976. The music has aged well, in Weller's mix of stop-start surges and warbling warmth on Jubileevit, the dirgey Dog and Bull Fight, the soul-sax anthem Foul Group Practices and the bouncing Calypso Reg. Guitarist Jimmy Roche occasionally sounds like an interloper from a different gig, and Weller's solo loquacity is a hard act to follow throughout; but this accessible and inventive music has much appeal, with Weller establishing just why he was a great in the making, and Tony Marsh a firestorm at the drums..............

The Croydon-based band’s steamy gigs were legendary, and this reissue from 1976, their only recording, captures the high energy levels, assured playing and focused abandon of their live performances.

Weller is on storming form, Roche not far behind, and the bass and drum rhythm section tight and raw.

Bonus track “Calypso Reg” rounds out a great album.....The Financial Times .....
A jazz-rock classic from 1976, and fabulously rare until now. Tenor saxophonist Don Weller was, and is, among the true originals of British jazz, with his cavernous sound and utterly unpredictable turn of phrase. Along with guitarist Jimmy Roche (his former band-mate from East of Eden), bassist Bruce Collcutt and drummer Tony Marsh, he created this band, combining phenomenally accurate ensemble playing with solos that sometimes approached the edges of insanity. They made only one album, and this is it, with an extra track and all the 70s audio-gunk removed....the quardian review.......

A fully remastered re-issue of the 1976 original vinyl release, which includes a previously unreleased track from the original recording session.

The sound of the South London Jazz and hipster scene of the early 1970s transcending a time and place which can be found no more and is simultaneously timeless.

True and raw music genius fronted by the "Tenor Titan" Don Weller, backed by Bruce Collcutt on bass guitar, Jimmy Roche on guitar and the late Tony Marsh on the drums.

The CD release contains an 8 page booklet including liner notes and rare band photographs.....................

- Don Weller (Saxophone)
- Bruce Collcut (Bass)
- Bruce Collcut (Bass)
- Jim Roche (Guitar) (East of Eden member)
- Tony Marsh (Drums)

A1 Dog And Bull Fight 8:13
A2 Foul Group Practices 7:07
A3 Jubileevit 5:36
B1 Hoe Down Up 7:55
B2 Shrimp Boats 8:35 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..