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US hip-hop legends wrap up Newport Jazz Festival

Members of the A Cappella group Naturally 7 (Roger Thomas, Dwight Stewart, Rod Eldridge, Garfield Buckley, Warren Thomas, Lee Ricardo Cort, Kelvin Mitchell) perform at Fort Adams during the Newport Jazz Festival August 4, 2017, in Newport, Rhode Island. An eclectic line-up of some 300 established and emerging jazz artists is featured at this year’s festival playing on four stages at historic Fort Adams State Park August 4-6. EVA HAMBACH / AFP

The Newport Jazz Festival wrapped up Sunday with a closing performance from the legendary hip-hop band “The Roots” as a new artistic director put his stamp on one of the world’s most venerable jazz carnivals.

The three-day festival in Rhode Island, which began in 1954, has been headlined over the years by jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane under the stewardship of its founder-promoter George Wein.

Since Wein stepped down last year, new artistic director Christian McBride has introduced a more eclectic line-up, featuring soul, Afro-Cuban and DJs as well as more traditional jazz stars such as Branford Marsalis who appeared on Saturday night.

McBride, who is himself a Grammy Award-winning bassist, said he was proud to feature “The Roots,” a band regarded as godfathers of hip-hop and best known in the United States as the house band of late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon.

“The one thing I think all these musicians have in common is that they all strive and achieve excellence,” McBride told AFP.

“Whatever style there is that they are in, they are excellent at it.”

The festival is regarded as one of the highlights of the summer cultural calendar in the northeastern United States and is held at the same venue as the Newport folk festival.