Founded by the late impresario/producer Norman Granz, Pablo is a jazz label first and foremost. Nonetheless, Pablo has successfully dabbled in blues on occasion, and this compilation (which was assembled in 2002 and spans 1969-1985) takes a look at some of the company's blues output. Not surprisingly, Blues Around the Clock is, for the most part, a CD of very jazz-minded blues. Jazz, after all, was Granz's main focus -- and more often than not, Blues Around the Clock underscores his obsession with improvised music. The disc's least jazz-minded artist is Muddy Waters, who is in good form on live performances of "Got My Mojo Workin'," "Rollin' 'n' Tumblin'," and Robert Johnson's "Walkin' Blues" (all of which were recorded in Paris in 1972). One of the masters of electric Chicago blues, Waters had a tough, rugged spirit that rock fans adored -- his classic Chess releases of the late '40s and early '50s helped pave the way for rock & roll, and he influenced everyone from Led Zeppelin to Ten Years After. But if Waters was a bluesman with an abundance of rock appeal, the other artists on this disc -- who include Big Joe Turner, Jimmy Witherspoon, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and T-Bone Walker -- were bluesmen that the jazz world could relate to. It is impossible to miss the strong jazz influence that Turner brings to Willie Bryant's "Blues Around the Clock," or the sense of improvisation that Witherspoon displays on Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me to Do." And the list of players reads like a who's who of instrumental jazz; Count Basie, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, and Zoot Sims are among the many jazz heavyweights on board. Blues Around the Clock is a pleasing, thoughtfully assembled compilation that both blues and jazz enthusiasts need to be aware of.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson