McGuire Funeral Services in Washington confirmed Betts died Aug. 6 at his home in Silver Spring, Md., the New York Times said. The cause of death was not given.
Betts spent more than two decades accompanying Ella Fitzgerald and also worked with Joe Williams and Dinah Washington. He also worked with Cannonball Adderly, Woody Herman and Tommy Flannagan, among others.
Betts always said he was more interested in supporting other musicians and he did not record as a bandleader until he was nearly 70, the Times said.
Betts and guitarist Charlie Byrd were touring South America in 1961 when they heard the bossa nova in Brazil. They teamed up with saxophonist Stan Getz for "Jazz Samba," the album that kick started the worldwide bossa nova craze, the Times said.
A widower, Betts is survived by three sons, two daughters and four grandchildren.