The second cd released under the "Brass Band Aid" banner is perceptively titled: the initial release, consisting of a programme of familiar and popular items played by a celebrity all-star band, together with four other bands, was a laudable way to launch the appeal. With the exception of Alan Fernie's setting of "Do they know it's Christmas", however, it was very much a case of "us over here" looking towards "them over there" and finding a way to help. As various reports in the banding press - both on paper an online - have shown, the project has grown in leaps and bounds, all the more so because of the "hands-on" involvement, which has led to specific projects being set up with very visible results, and visits to see the work in hand. Thus it is that the second recording, entitled "Into Africa", gathers together responses of a dozen composers/arrangers, each of whom gives a very personal slant on Africa, sometimes using African rhythms and melodies, and sometimes just letting their imaginations roam. There is a great deal of variety, from Roy Newsome's "BBA March", firmly in the established brass band style, through to the more laid-back rhythms of Alan Fernie's "African Funk" or Ladysmith Black Mambaso's "Nansi Imali". Kenneth Downie's "African Trio" takes three African sacred songs and frames them in his famliar, harmonically adventurous style, whilst Aagaard-Nilsen's "Fresh" is a fun number commissioned by a school band looking for music that would be challenging as well as fun to play. Talking of fun, the contribution from Mnozil Brass, a re-mixing of of the polka "Hansi im Deschangel", complete with jungle effects and other additions that have to be heard to be believed, is one that Spike Jones and his City Slickers would have been proud of! In total contrast are more reflective items such as Peter Meechan's impressive "Hymn for Africa", Alan Fernie's "Dignity", inspired by comments by Briony and Bob Thompson following their visit to Ethiopia in 2006, and Rodney Newton's "Simba", named after the Swahili word for "lion", and depicting the nobility of the beast in an expansive prelude followed by a lively fugue. Gavin Higgins' "Ivory ghosts" is a reaction to the horrors of the ivory trade whilst Lucy Pankhurst's striking "Heed the Word" draws inspiration from the call and response of african vocal music, together with African style drumming and the use of open 4ths and 5ths. "Mbabane" gets its title from a town in Swaziland where the composer Jan Magnus Forde had appeared on tour with the Brazz Brothers whilst Ian Robinson's "Kibera" depicts life in the largest, poorest slum in Africa, where even the bleakest setting is notable for the exuberance of the children living there. "African Funk" was written by Alan Fernie as a response to the initial recording, and could even be said to be at least in part the inspiration for the present release, whilst Darrol Barry's "African Adventure" gives him the opportunity to present the music of Africa rather than the Arabic flavour required by his employment by the Sultanate of Oman. The other two items are Bob Childs' arrangement of the "Evening Prayer" from Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" and a reprise of "Do they know it's Christmas". The music is performed by a range of groups, each of whom was asked to make time to lay down a track or two as part of their existing recording schedule: this leads to some variation in sound, but does not prove too disconcerting, and all the performances are very committed and involving. No doubt each listenener will have their own favourite tracks, but there is much here to enjoy, and more than that, much to reflect on. With most of the music having been signed over to "Brass Band Aid" it is to hoped that some at least of the music will appear in band programmes to help raise the profile of this very deserving cause. The recording is topped and tailed by the voices of the children of Adet, and at the end there is a hidden track of authentic African traditional music. Ten pounds will allow you unlimited heaings of this hour-long programme, as well as the knowledge that all the profits are going to really make a difference - and don't forget that Christmas is fast approaching!