One of the most compelling portrayals of jazz develops from the theme of the downtrodden hero. According to this narrative, jazz, as an anthropomorphism of black survival – America’s “living art” - endures a precarious existence, trapped within a plebeian and often hostile commercial environment. For a time, the hero narrative worked successfully to perpetuate beliefs in the music’s historical and aesthetic coherence. Jazz endured, it seemed, despite the wide range of styles and practices that had emerged since its “birth” in the “cradle” of New Orleans. By the late 1950s, however, many observers had begun to suspect that something was seriously wrong with the musical body, jazz. Having taken for granted its ties to a market economy that required a constant flow of new stars, taste makers and pundits feared that jazz might soon die off unless a new figure of vision could provide a clear stylistic direction. Musical activity in a real sense had not subsided, of course. Journalistic coverage from the period shows that musicians actively performed and recorded in an array of styles, from New Orleans ensemble improvisations to gospel-inflected soul jazz, from “third stream” (a hybrid of jazz and European-based art music) to energetic extensions of bop (Lees 1960). Yet the expectations of innovation, exacerbated by market pressures, led many to believe that any lapse in discernible stylistic growth was a sure sign of a coming “death.” As a matter of course, critics and audiences looked hopefully to that next “Great Man” who would build a new kind of jazz based on prior practices.