Started out in New Orleans, wound up in Chicago. The subject could be the blues backbeat, or it could be the life of Armand "Jump" Jackson. Or it could be both, since the two are almost one and the same. That fat, greasy sock rhythm that was heard on many of the blues records made in Chicago in the late '40s and '50s was created by the one and only Jump Jackson, sometimes while he was booking a tour in his head for one of his bands. In the late '40s, Jackson worked as a bandleader on sessions for labels such as Columbia, Specialty, and Aristocrat; his band backed up vocalists such as St. Louis Jimmy, Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim, and Baby Doo Caston. He also drummed on at least a dozen classic urban blues albums, with leaders ranging from the most famous such as John Lee Hooker to the obscure but great Robert Nighthawk.
As well as performing, Jackson was indeed a certified booking agent. His taste for controlling as much of the business as possible spread to his recording career. In 1959 he founded La Salle Records and began putting out his own sessions as well as sides by Eddie Boyd, Eddy Clearwater, Little Mack Simmons, and his old playing partner pianist Slim. Performer Clearwater even got his name from Jackson, who came up with the stage name as a reaction to his friend Eddy Harrington's fondness for blues giant Muddy Waters. The blues audience was ready for clear water as well as muddy, since the change in names was just what this artist apparently needed for his career to start taking off. In 1962, Jackson was chosen as the drummer for the first American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe, although by then he could feel the cold wind of progress blowing on his neck, even among all the other breezes in the Windy City. The swing-era style of blues drumming he had pioneered was slowly being taken over by a newer kind of hard-edged backbeat, as practiced by blues drummer Fred Below for example.