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Best Jazz Ghost Tracks and Other Spectral Jazz, Part 1

Ludovico Granvassu By

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Even if ghost tracks existed well before the invention of the compact disc, they certainly became a less rare occurrence in the era of the silver disc. So, if you belong to the CD-generation, you are certainly familiar with the sense of surprise and joy that comes at the end of an album when, as you thought the album was over and were about to turn the player off or to start playing the next album... the music filled the air again, unannounced.

What are the best jazz ghost tracks? Why were they concealed in plain sight—or, better, plain hearing? We have tried to collect the best in hidden jazz, as well as other phantom-related jazz tunes, and divided it up in two parts (the second part will be online in a few days).

You can click on the embedded player above to listen to these tracks, look at the playlist below to learn where you can find them, and enjoy the background stories shared with us by musicians that have responded to one straight question: "Why did you choose to hide this great tune as ghost track?" Here is what they had to say.

Rudy Royston

"Mimi Sunset"—ghost track on 303 (Greenleaf): The entire album has the vibe set up by its opening track "Mimi Sunrise." It felt appropriate to connect the beginning and the end of 303, sonically and thematically, and so I added "Mimi Sunset," which was the first tune I wrote for this record, at the end of the record, as a ghost track. I thought of it as a meditation of sort, which comes after the final official tune of the album, "Prayer for the Earth." The silence that separates the two songs offers a moment to release and pray, and to let the music of the CD settle. The music is not just the song... the music continues in the silence after the prayer. It's like a "Selah" in the Psalms.

Paolo Fresu

"Cartoons"—ghost track on Stanley Music (Blue Note): As it always happens in the recording studio, we recorded much more material than we needed, so we were then forced to make choices. "Cartoons," a composition of bassist Paolino Dalla Porta, had a very different feel compared to the rest of the album. Nevertheless we really liked the tune and how we played it in the studio. We ended being sorry both to leave it out and that it did not quite fit with the rest of the tracks and, therefore, would break the listening flow. So we thought that we could keep it, but as a ghost track. That allowed us to close the album on a light note. It was like a good Neapolitan espresso, with a couple of sugar cubes, at the end of a rewarding lunch.

Bobby Previte

Untitled ghost track on Counterclockwise (Palmetto): "I love surprises!"

Happy listening!

Playlist

  • Ben Allison "Mondo Jazz Theme (feat. Ted Nash & Pyeng Threadgill)" 0:00
  • Bobby Previte "Untitled Ghost Track" Counterclockwise (Palmetto) 0:16
  • Host talks 3:38
  • Erik Truffaz "Snachy Baby [Ghost Track]" Mantis (Blue Note) 5:13
  • Host talks 8:34
  • Paolo Fresu Devil Quartet "Cartoons [Ghost Track]" Stanley Music! (Blue Note) 9:54
  • Thomas de Pourquery "[Ghost Track]" Supersonic Play Sun Ra (Quark) 15:15
  • Host talks 17:19
  • Duke Pearson "The Phantom" The Phantom (feat. Bobby Hutcherson) (Blue Note) 18:04
  • Branford Marsalis "Sleepy Hollow [Ghost Track]" Contemporary Jazz (Columbia) 28:16
  • Host talks 35:42
  • Medeski Martin & Wood "[Ghost Track]" Combustication (Blue Note) 38:21
  • Rudy Royston "Mimi Sunset [Ghost Track]" 303 (Greenleaf) 44:17
  • Enrico Morello "Ghost Truck" Cyclic Signs (Auand) 47:48
  • Host talks 57:01
  • Oltremare Quartet "[Ghost Track]" Uncommon Nonsense (Babel) 57:38
Photo credit: Sylvain Gripoix

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