With three well-received recordings under his name featuring Tony Malaby, Todd Sickafoose, Scott Amendola, Devin Hoff, Art Hirahara, and Pete Forbes, John has also performed and recorded with an array of noteworthy artists over the years, including Honeycut (on DJ Shadow's Quannum Records); composer/clarinetist Beth Custer (on her CD Vinculum Symphony and the Hans Wendl-produced soundtrack to the 1929 Russian silent film My Grandmother); and vocalist Percy Howard (Incidental Seductions with Living Colour's Vernon Reid, King Crimson's Trey Gunn and This Heat's Charles Hayward). Ettinger served as a co-founding member of several bay area bands, including eclectic improv groups Overdriven Cultists (with Grassy Knoll members Dave Revelli and Jonathan Byerly) and electric jazz-jam band Hurlo Thrumbo (with Jon Preuss, Andrew Luthringer, and Tod Preuss). He has also performed in various other settings with The Scott Amendola Band, Beth Custer, Damon Smith, and Naut Humon and the Iso-Orchestra with Arto Lindsay and Eyvind Kang. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Ettinger lived in Arizona, where he collaborated with several musicians, including Trio Discussions (with Rob Kaplan, and J. B. Smith), an improv group with whom he recorded an album produced by guitarist David Torn.
While in Arizona he also was a member of the Primavera String Quartet, Mariachi Continental Azteca, various community symphony orchestras, and a composer of music for Desert Dance Theatre, the Southwest's leading modern dance company