Recorded in 1962, Southern Comfort finds Frank Wess leading an octet that is arranged by Oliver Nelson. Although Nelson was a pleasing saxophonist -- he plays tenor on this vinyl LP -- it was his talents as an arranger that brought him the most attention. And Nelson's attractive arrangements serve Wess quite well throughout this session, which employs Wess on tenor sax and flute, Nelson on tenor sax, George Barrow on baritone sax, Al Aarons on trumpet, Tommy Flanagan on piano, George Duvivier on bass, Osie Johnson on drums, and Ray Barretto on congas. To his credit, Nelson doesn't over-arrange. There is still plenty of room for blowing and improvising, and Wess sounds very uninhibited on everything from the funky, hard-swinging "Blues for Butterball" to lyrical, melodic offerings such as "Gin's Beguine" and "Summer Frost" (both of which are Wess originals). Equally memorable are the octet's interpretations of the standards "Blue Skies" and "Dancing in the Dark." One of Wess' most rewarding sessions, Southern Comfort was reissued in 2000, when Fantasy united this album and 1963's Yo Ho! Poor You, Little Me on the same 68-minute CD.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson