Playing the Changes is a documentary about the life of jazz pianist Darius Brubeck (born in 1947), the eldest son of legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck. People quite often see him as 'the son of’ but he has used this distinction with idealism. This story examines why and how jazz had a transformative role in different types of societies such as Poland and South Africa and tracks Darius Brubeck’s involvement in both.

In 1983, during the apartheid-era in South Africa, he started the very first university degree in Jazz on the continent, which was open to everyone. Darius has inspired and taught countless talented musicians. Because of the programme’s success, Darius and his South African wife, Cathy, were able to create the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music, a venue where students rehearse, perform and gain exposure and where visiting international musicians play and teach.

In this documentary, Darius reflects on his life, career and the success of the student ensembles. Using archival footage and interviews, the film highlights his part in a music department that stood at the forefront of cultural opposition to apartheid, and became a flagship anticipating the ‘new’ South Africa. The documentary also uses anecdotes from various former students, musicologists and jazz historians. We follow Darius and Cathy during anniversary tours in South Africa as well as in Poland, the latter country being where Darius at age 10 made his first appearance on stage.

Playing the Changes is a film about what it is like to grow up as a jazz musician in a turbulent time of racial segregation in the US, political tension during the Cold War and applying these experiences to living and teaching in South Africa. What kind of mentor was Dave for Darius and how much of Dave Brubeck’s legacy is reflected in Darius’ career 100 years after Dave’s birth.

Cast and Crew

Cast Darius Brubeck

Darius Brubeck

Darius is an American jazz pianist, composer, author and retired university professor (still active as a researcher and writer) residing in England. He leads The Darius Brubeck Quartet and tours annually with his brothers Chris and Dan in Brubecks Play Brubeck. Darius and his wife, Catherine, are working on a book about their ‘jazz life’ in South Africa in the 80’s and 90’s.

Director Michiel ten Kleij

Michiel ten Kleij

Michiel’s love for story began when he saw The Neverending Story on VHS. A healthy addiction for storytelling has begun. He grew up in front of the television and developed a broad taste in film. He either creates very fictitious or very realistic films, usually divided between drama and documentary. A lot of the time music plays an important role in his work. Michiel has made several short drama films and documentaries about jazz musicians, along with portraits for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.

Executive Producer David E. Richardson

David E. Richardson, Jr.

Producer David E. Richardson, Jr. received his love and passion for Jazz from his parents during their travels around the world. He spent a year in Siberia, Russia teaching conversational English in 2002 and became acquainted with many Russian Jazz artists.

cast and crew

Cast and Crew

Darius & Catherine Brubeck, among others

Production Company: Red Cloak Films
in Association with: The Real Jazz Ambassadors

Director: Michiel ten Kleij
Associate Producer: David E. Richardson, Jr
Cinematographer: Jorne Tielemans
Editor: Maarten in ’t Hout
Sound: Iwan van Wijk
Consulting Producer: Sylvia Frankena
Publicist & International PR manager: Arlette “That Jazz Girl” Hovinga