For Luna Surface, Alan Silva collected many of the top free jazz players of the day -- and then he gave them all the green light. As a result, this is a very free record that could easily turn off a listener not yet sold on the 1969 avant-garde jazz scene. The 11-piece ensemble featured, among others, Grachan Moncur III, Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, Dave Burrell, Leroy Jenkins, and Malachi Favors. Every member of the group should be familiar to fans of the BYG Actuel series and some, like Moncur and Shepp, from sessions on bigger, U.S. labels like Blue Note and Impulse! respectively. There is very little in the way of a theme and arguably little or no direction to "From the Luna Surface," the only cut on the record. For some this might be a little too much to handle, while for others it might just hit the spot. All four of the string instruments are bowed for the majority of the record -- Silva bowing his violin upright, like a bass -- and often at ultra-high frequencies that waver in and out of tonality with one another. There is no ensemble or unison playing from the horn section. Instead, they quietly enter the conversation one by one, hit a handful of fevered pitches midway through the piece, and leave as quietly as the came. As a historical document of Pan-African high art music, this session is absolutely invaluable. It might not be so appropriate in the car.
AllMusic Review by Brandon Burke