A native of New York, James Guttman began playing electric bass in rock bands when he was a student at Adelphi University. Later, while completing his master’s degree in mass communications at Emerson College in Boston, he switched to the double bass and became active in the Boston area’s jazz and bluegrass scenes. He has studied performance with Edwin Barker and Dave Holland, harmony with Richard Cornell, and improvisation with Charlie Banacos. Guttman joined the Klezmer Conservatory Band at its inception and is a founding member of the Really Eclectic String Quartet. He has worked with such noted musicians and entertainers as Joel Smirnoff, Eartha Kitt, Mark Murphy, Johnny Shines, Jim Bailey, Matt Glaser, Russ Barenberg, and the Artie Shaw Band. He also played for more than ten seasons in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1999 premiered Gunther Schuller’s Fantastical Colloquy for trumpet and bass. In 2010, Guttmann released Bessarabian Breakdown, his first CD as a leader on Kleztone Records. The album features straight-ahead celebratory klezmer music, as well as fusions of klezmer with many other styles. He is an active member of multiple ensembles from the klezmer world and beyond.
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