Keter Betts

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Keter Betts
Birth nameWilliam Thomas Betts
Born(1928-07-22)July 22, 1928
Port Chester, New York
DiedAugust 6, 2005(2005-08-06) (aged 77)
Silver Spring, Maryland

William Thomas "Keter" Betts (July 22, 1928 – August 6, 2005) was an American jazz double bassist.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Port Chester, New York, he was nicknamed "Keter", a short form of the word mosquito.[1] He graduated from Port Chester High School in 1946, where he played drums, tympani, tuba, glockenspiel, and bass fiddle.


Many better-known musicians, such as Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Nat Adderley, Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd and others, recognizing Betts's talent, invited him to perform with them professionally. He was a member of Earl Bostic's R&B band from April 1949 to August 1951. Accompanied Dinah Washington/December 1951 to October 1956. He later became a member of the Charlie Byrd Trio in 1957. In 1962, he was instrumental in introducing the bossa nova style to American audiences via their Jazz Samba recording.[2] He worked with Bobby Timmons and recorded an album in 1964 before joining Ella Fitzgerald as an accompanist in October of that year. He toured with Fitzgerald as a bassist for many years after.[1] He left Fitzgerald's band and worked with Roberta Flack, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartman, Kenny Burrell, Herbie Mann, Billy Eckstine, and Chris Connor. He rejoined Fitzgerald in December 1971 and remained with her until her retirement.

Personal life[edit]

A widowed father of five children,[2] Betts resided in the Washington, D.C., area for more than a half century. He died of a heart attack at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, in August 2005.[1]

Selected discography[edit]

As Leader

  • Bass, Buddies & Blues (Keter Betts Music, 1998)
  • Bass, Buddies, Blues & Beauty Too (Keter Betts Music, 1999)
  • Live at the East Coast Jazz Festival (Keter Betts Music, 2000)

With Clifford Brown

With Charlie Byrd

With Ella Fitzgerald

With Tommy Flanagan

With Etta Jones

With Sam Jones

With Junior Mance

  • Blue Mance (Chiaroscuro, 1994)
  • The Floating Jazz Festival Trio (Chiaroscuro, 1995)
  • The FJF Trio with Joe Temperley (Chiaroscuro, 1996)
  • The Floating Jazz Festival Trio (Chiaroscuro, 1997)
  • The Floating Jazz Festival Trio (Chiaroscuro, 1998)
  • A Chiaroscuro Christmas (Chiaroscuro)

With Helen Merrill

With Bobby Timmons

With Louie Bellson

  • Salute (Chiaroscuro, 1994)

With Johnny Frigo, Herb Ellis and Lou Carter

  • The Soft Winds, Then and Now (Chiaroscuro, 1996)

With Jay McShann

  • Hootie (Chiaroscuro, 1997)

With Red Holloway, O. C. Smith and Phil Upchurch

  • Standing Room Only (Chiaroscuro, 1998)

With Waymon Reed

With C. I. Williams


  1. ^ a b c "Jazz Bassist Keter Betts Dies at 77". Washington Post. August 8, 2005. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Keter Betts, 77, Jazz Bassist Who Spread the Bossa Nova, Is Dead". The New York Times. August 22, 2005. Retrieved January 18, 2011.

External links[edit]