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by Seth Colter Walls

October 29, 2013

Lou Reed's Top Jazz, Strings & Noise Riffs

by Seth Colter Walls  |  October 29, 2013

Lou Reed didn't just leave behind an impressive catalog of original pop songs. He also helped feed the American avant-garde scene for several decades -- right up until his death this weekend, at age 71.

First, there were those Velvet Underground rock-and-noise essays, like "Sister Ray." And sure, he had that string-laden suite on Street Hassle. Even further "out there" was how, in different decades, Reed managed to collaborate both with jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman (on the song "Guilty"), as well as Coleman trumpeter Don Cherry, on "The Bells" (from 1979). The searing Reed guitar attack also appeared on his wife Laurie Anderson's 2010 experimental single "Only an Expert" -- and he also duetted with her on the 1994 cut "In Our Sleep".

Reed's sonic adventurism found a perfect home in New York, where he was a hard-to-miss presence: You were as likely to see him at the Metropolitan Opera (checking out a Philip Glass work) as you were to bump into him in Alphabet City, near the small experimental club The Stone. Given that legacy, it's little surprise that Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang chose to arrange the Reed composition "Heroin" for cello and voice in 2008. We've collected many of Reed's varied interests (and sounds) in the attached playlist, from the Ornette duet to Lang's classical redraft. And yes, we've also included the final section of Metal Machine Music to close things out.

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