Keter Betts


William Thomas "KeterBetts (July 22, 1928 – August 6, 2005) was an American jazz double bassist. Born in Port Chester, New York, he was nicknamed "Keter", a short form of the word mosquito.


Many better-known musicians (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. Early in Betts's career he had played with Earl Bostic's R&B band. In 1962, together with Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, he was instrumental in introducing the bossa nova style to American audiences via their Jazz Samba recording. In the mid-1960s, Betts began a nearly quarter-century relationship as a bassist with Ella Fitzgerald.

Personal life

A widowed father of five children, Betts resided in the Washington, DC, area for more than a half century. He died at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, in August 2005.

Selected discography

With Clifford Brown

  • Jam Session (EmArcy, 1954) with Maynard Ferguson and Clark Terry

With Charlie Byrd

  • Blues for Night People (1957)
  • Byrd's Word! (Riverside, 1958)
  • Byrd in the Wind (Riverside, 1959)
  • Mr. Guitar (Riverside, 1960)
  • The Guitar Artistry of Charlie Byrd (Riverside, 1960)
  • Charlie Byrd at the Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961)
  • Blues Sonata (Riverside, 1961)
  • Jazz Samba (Verve, 1962) with Stan Getz
  • Latin Impressions (Riverside, 1962)
  • Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros (Riverside, 1962)
  • Once More! Charlie Byrd's Bossa Nova (Riverside, 1963)
  • Byrd at the Gate (Riverside, 1963)
  • Byrd Song (Riverside, 1964)

With Ella Fitzgerald

  • Ella in Hamburg (Verve, live, 1965)
  • Ella Loves Cole (Atlantic, 1972)
  • Ella in London (Pablo, live, 1974)
  • Montreux '75 (Pablo, live, 1975)
  • Montreux '77 (Ella Fitzgerald album) (Pablo, live, 1977)
  • Digital III at Montreux (Pablo, live, 1979)
  • A Perfect Match (Ella Fitzgerald album) (Pablo, 1979)
  • Jazz at the Philharmonic – Yoyogi National Stadium, Tokyo 1983: Return to Happiness (Pablo, live, 1983)

With Tommy Flanagan

  • The Tommy Flanagan Tokyo Recital (Pablo, 1975)
  • Straight Ahead (Pablo, 1976) with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
  • Something Borrowed, Something Blue (Galaxy, 1978)

With Etta Jones

  • The Melody Lingers On (HighNote, 1997)

With Sam Jones

  • The Soul Society (Riverside, 1960)
  • The Chant (Riverside, 1961)

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

  • The Artistry of Helen Merrill (Mainstream, 1965)

With Bobby Timmons

  • Chun-King (Prestige, 1964)
  • Workin' Out! (Prestige, 1964)

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 C. I. Williams

  • When Alto Was King (Mapleshade, 1997)

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