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Keter Betts R.I.P.

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Steve Bassman, Aug 6, 2005.


  1. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I just heard on the radio that he passed away. We've lost yet another great one. Man, what an awful year for jazz bassists!

    - Steve

    http://kaybass.home.att.net
     
  2. djcruse

    djcruse

    Jun 3, 2002
    Norwood, MA
    Where did you find this? I can't find anything online about it. He's scheduled to play the Kennedy Center in September and the performance hasn't been cancelled or anything.
     
  3. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Bob Seymour, the jazz program director on WMNF announced it over the radio last night. I'm 100% sure he said Keter Betts. Maybe he got him confused with Al McKibbon. I'll get in touch with John Lamb who knows Keter and see if a can verify anything.

    - Steve

    http://kaybass.home.att.net
     
  4. Tom Coles said the same on his morning show on Pacifica radio in Washington DC. I enjoyed Mr. Betts work very much, saw him perform several times.
     
  5. djcruse

    djcruse

    Jun 3, 2002
    Norwood, MA
    Apparently you guys are right. Great job breaking this story to the bass community! Here's the text from the Kansas City Star newspaper, which will appear shortly on my bass-player related news website at http://www.24stgeorge.com
    last chapter

    ■ Keter Betts, a jazz bassist heard on more than 200 recordings, including those by guitarist Charlie Byrd and singers Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald, was found dead Saturday at his Maryland home. He was 77

    Trumpeter Clark Terry, formerly with the Duke Ellington and “Tonight Show” orchestras, said Betts was “on the top plateau of all the bass players.” Betts played in bands with Oscar Peterson, Tommy Flanagan, Woody Herman, Nat Adderley, Joe Pass, Clifford Brown and Vince Guaraldi.
     
  6. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
  7. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Man, another shocker. I met Keter at my first ISB convention several years ago. We talked about 20 minutes about various things, including playing tuba, and he didn't know me from Adam. He put on a very entertaining show that day. Great loss to the bass community.
     
  8. How many of you guys, besides me, play Keter's bass figure for an intro on Desafinato? I made damn sure I played it when I worked with Getz.
    I had the pleasure of hanging with Keter at many jazz parties.
    Man, it's one after another!
     
  9. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Me me I do I do. Sometimes.
     
  10. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    In the jazz group I play with always begins and ends Desifinado tune with that bass figure. The rest of the band fades out at the end leaving me playing that line by myself. We performed it that way at the 2004 Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Chuck Redd played that show with us and he worked with Keter all the time becuse they were both associated with Charlie Byrd and played in the D.C. area.

    The funny thing about the original Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd recording is that half the band plays the changes during the solos while the other half goes back to the introduction. They evetually get in sync, but instead of Charlie Byrd taking a solo his brother Joe (who later replaced Keter on bass) plays one on electric guitar. Still a great recording, though. And a great bass intro.

    - Steve
     
  11. STRONGBOW

    STRONGBOW

    Aug 26, 2005
    I attended Keter's funeral in WDC on August 15th. Some 2000 people were there, and it was a nonstop musical tribute starting at 10 am and continuing until 4 pm. Among the noteables in attendance were: Junior Mance, Barry Harris, Ethel Ennis, Billy Taylor, Freddy Cole. A bass choir, led by Steve Novosel and including Michael Bowie, Tommy Cecil, Ephraim Wolfolk performed a "Recesssional" for Keter. Joining in was Eldee Young. It was a beautiful tribute.....
     
  12. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    In the mid 80's I was the manager at the Smithsonian's Discovery Theatre (theatre for children). Keter had one of the most inspiring programs for kids I had ever seen. It was one of the few truly successful and innovative ways to introduce children to jazz using their own cultural background. He will be truly missed.

    Mike Dimin
     
  13. STRONGBOW

    STRONGBOW

    Aug 26, 2005
    Mike--

    A representative from the Fairfax County Public Schools spoke one of the eulogies for Keter and she pointed out that he had donated his time, gratis, for many years to their music in schools program and thus helped the school system to purchase health insurance for underpriviledge kids who would otherwise have received no health care. She estimated that some 85,000 children received health care over the years because of Keter Betts. And he did similar things with the Wolf Trap Foundation.

    One story that was published after his death related how one day Keter was working with the kids outside in a park somewhere and he ran up against one particularly frustrated and angry lad. Keter reportedly sat his bass aside, picked up a sheet of paper and laid it on the ground in front of this lad and instructed him to step over the paper. The kid did that, and Keter moved the paper in front about 2 feet further away and told him to jump over it again-- and then once more, even further. That was his way of showing the boy that we are all capable of achieving more than we thought we can....