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Sunday, 23 October 2016

Betty Bennett born 23 October 1921

Betty Bennett (born October 23, 1921) is an American jazz singer. 
Betty Bennett was born 23 October 1921 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child, she hoped to become an opera singer, studying voice and piano while attending Drake University, Iowa. Her direction was changed when, by way of records, her mother introduced her to the music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Loving what she heard of these jazz musicians, Betty quickly became proficient in jazz singing, displaying a natural talent for the form. 

Betty left Hamburg, Iowa, for New York in 1941, determined to become a big band singer. After serving as a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in World War II, Betty's dream came true. 

While still very young, she joined Georgie Auld’s band in 1943 and then in quick succession spent time in the late swing era big bands led by Claude Thornhill in 1946, the band in which her husband, bassist Iggy Shevak was playing. Shortly after her husband left to join Alvino Rey, Bennett followed him there. 

In 1949, she joined Charlie Ventura's band. The Ventura band bore the promo tag ‘Bop for the People’ and Betty’s contemporary vocal styling was a perfect fit. More than her contemporaries, Betty bridged swing and bop. She was also briefly with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman.

Apart from airshots, Betty’s recording career got underway with 1949-1951 sessions by the Ventura band, including performances of Yankee Clipper, Too Marvelous For Words and I Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind. Betty’s experiences in these years are entertainingly recounted in her autobiography, The Ladies Who Sing With The Band, which was published by Scarecrow Press in 2000. 

                Here's "Sidewalks of Cuba" from above album.

Betty recorded her first own-name album for Trend in 1953. Two years later in 1955, she recorded “Nobody Else But Me” for Atlantic Records accompanied by a band led by André Previn, whom she had married in 1952. In the band were Shorty Rogers, who with Previn also wrote the charts, Frank Rosolino, Bob Cooper, Jimmy Giuffre, Barney Kessell and Shelly Manne.  

Betty had two daughters with Andre Previn; Claudia and Alicia. Previn divorced Bennett in 1957, a few months before she gave birth to their second daughter. In 1958 Betty resumed her singing career with Benny Goodman after which she semi-retired. In 1963 she moved to London where she worked as resident singer at Ronnie Scott’s Club from 1964 to 1966. She moved back to LA in 1967 working as a  secretary-researcher for a TV producer.  

In addition to jazz club dates, Betty had begun appearing on the jazz festival circuit and in 1975 she celebrated a new personal relationship when she and Mundell Lowe were married at a ceremony held at the Monterey Jazz Festival. By the late '80s she was touring Europe with Lowe, and was a featured performer for opening night of Wolsey's club in London. 

Separately and together, over the years Betty Bennett and Mundell Lowe have made significant contributions to jazz that are always lithely swinging. Betty’s singing, lyrically profound and musically adventurous, and Mundy’s elegant and deceptively sparse exploration of the often overlooked subtleties of many compositions, have allowed them to create memorable interpretations of standards from the repertoire of both jazz and popular song.
Betty’s extensive collection of photographs and other memorabilia is now with Rutgers University’s Institute of Jazz Studies, although most of the photos seen here are from Marc Myers’ JazzWax website. 

(Info edited from various sources, mainly from an article by Editor Bruce @

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Betty Bennett – Vocal & Jazz Essentials” go here:

01. Nobody Else But Me
02. This Is The Moment
03. Mountain Greenery
04. You Took Advantage Of Me
05. Island In The West Indies
06. Treat Me Rough
07. My Man’s Gone Now
08. The Next Time I Care
09. Tomorrow Mountain
10. You’re Driving Me Crazy
11. Sidewalks Of Cuba
12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

The album covered here, with excellent sound reproduction, is her 1955 release arranged by Previn along with Shorty Rogers titled “Nobody Else But Me” (Atlantic 1226) with backing musicians that included Previn (who became her second husband in 1952) at the piano, bassist Ralph Pena, clarinetist Dave Pell and Gus Bivona, drummer Shelly Manne, flutist Harry Klee, Philip Memoli playing the oboe, harpist Katherine Johnk and John Cave on the French horn.