“I’m a former minister...no longer a person of faith in such a way,” says free-jazz trumpeter/electronics specialist Jeff Kaiser, whose personal history and career illustrate an interesting duality. He started playing the guitar and trumpet in the Presbyterian church but also played in several punk-rock bands in the ’80s. He earned his master’s degree in choral direction and conducting and then made the unlikely switch to free improvised music after meeting trombonist John Rapson, while becoming a minister along the way.
“I had become a regular minister in the late ’80s, and I did that for a few years, and then I realized one day that I really wanted to do music and focus on that. Not only that, but I went through a kind of crisis of faith...no longer believing the things I was taught as a child.”
Kaiser moved to San Diego in 2007, having spent a long time exploring the L.A. free jazz scene, particularly with multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia.
When Kaiser wants to put out a record, he doesn't have to shop demos around or hope for corporate approval. He started his own record label, pfMENTUM (pronounced pee-eff-men-toom) in 1999 to document the adventurous music that wasn't being recorded. The label currently has nearly a hundred releases under its belt, including 2011 recordings by singer Bonnie Barnett and saxophonist Dick Wood leading a nonet, as well as 2012 releases by Zen Widow (Screaming In Daytime [Makes Men Forget]) and Michael Vlatkovich (Pershing Woman--Vlatkovich Tryyo).
As if gigging, teaching, and running a record label weren't enough, Kaiser started another record company, AngryVegan, in 2001, explaining, "I started the second label to be even more eclectic...pfMENTUM has a very specific aesthetic focus, where AngryVegan is more broad."
There are several releases under the AngryVegan imprint. Kaiser and saxophonist David Borgo have a duo called KaiBorg with a disc out on pfMENTUM.
In late 2012, Kaiser released a collaborative full-length with Phil Skaller, Endless Pie..