Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

August 24, 2005

Keter Betts, 77, a veteran jazz bassist who spent more than two decades accompanying Ella Fitzgerald and played a role in bringing the bossa nova to the United States, died Aug. 6 at his home in Silver Spring.

Best known for his work with singers, Mr. Betts always said that he was more interested in providing support for other performers than in being in the spotlight; he did not record an album as a leader until he was almost 70.

His association with Ms. Fitzgerald began in the mid-1960s, became full time in 1968 and continued until her retirement in 1993. Among the other singers he backed were Dinah Washington and Joe Williams. He recorded with Cannonball Adderley, Woody Herman and many others.

While on an extended South American tour with the guitarist Charlie Byrd in 1961, Mr. Betts first heard the music of Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and other bossa nova pioneers in Brazil. Back in the United States, the two musicians joined forces with saxophonist Stan Getz the next year on the album Jazz Samba, released under the joint leadership of Mr. Getz and Mr. Byrd, which helped start the global bossa nova phenomenon.

In his later years, Mr. Betts was active in jazz education in the Washington area, where he spent most of his life, and played often on jazz cruises.

J. Curtis Lewis Jr., 79, the first Republican mayor of Savannah, Ga., in a century and a longtime philanthropist giving money and land for charities serving the city's homeless and poor, died there Saturday of leukemia.

The Savannah native inherited a Ford dealership from his father and expanded his holdings into a broadcast business and several investment firms.

In 1966, he was elected mayor. He was defeated in 1970 and never ran for political office again, but remained active in the community.

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