I can tell you this, for the first time that I can remember since seeing a tape of Gould playing, I was blown away by a piano player. Not only because of one or two hot licks like Jerry Lee Lewis can astound you with, but because of the over all performance. At first the Quartet sounded like it wasn't doing anything that memorable, playing what I would consider fairly mainstream Jazz, yet the more I listened the more there was to hear.
What is so amazing about both of the concerts on these discs — the 1964 one from Belgium in a television studio, and the one two years later before a live audience in Germany — is how deceptively simple the music appeared to be. It was only when I started to pay attention to the interplay between Paul Desmond on Alto Saxophone and Dave on the piano that I realized how intricate the music was.
Now I'm not musically literate enough to give you the proper terminology for what they were doing. But periodically, without any warning, the tempo of a piece would alter ever so slightly. I would think the lead on this came from Brubeck on piano, but it was always so subtle that there was no way you could tell for sure who started it.
One moment a song would be progressing along almost casually, like they were out for a stroll, and the next moment, the number of notes being played would increase. The pace didn't actually speed up, it would only appear to because they were playing that many more notes in the same amount of time. It would be the equivalent of a song jumping from a waltz tempo, three notes per bar, to something faster, like playing five or six notes per bar.
Not only did this give the impression of the songs speed increasing, it added another layer of texture to the music. As a means of creating variations on themes, this is brilliant, while easy for a listener to keep up with. You probably aren't able to accomplish something like this with the ease the Quartet does without years of playing together behind you, or without a rhythm section you can trust implicitly.