Chicago bassist Nick Macri is the model of versatility. He has appeared with a formidable gallery of jazz, folk, and rock musicians, including Ken Vandermark, James Elkington, Laetitia Sadier, Bobby Conn, and instrumental combo Stirrup. Adept on electric bass guitar and acoustic double bass, he can be unassumingly supportive or assertively tuneful, depending on what the situation requires. But he rarely performs on his own, which makes the music on his debut LP, Amache (Cuneiform), especially surprising. It’s credited to Nick Macri & Mono No Aware (“mono no aware” is a Japanese phrase referring to cognizance of the impermanence of things), but Macri is the only musician on it. He opens the album with tolling, almost prayerful metal percussion, but that vibe proves quite transient when he abruptly burps his electric bass. “How to Be in the Body . . . Without Jumping Out of Your Skin (for Tracy Pew)” is named for the late bassist of the Birthday Party, the ferocious postpunk combo where Nick Cave made his bones. The piece wraps around one and a half sides of a vinyl record, taking a winding path from simple, scorched melody to electronically scoured noise. Then Macri turns to his acoustic bass for the title track, dedicated to the thousands of Japanese American citizens who where shipped to internment camps during World War II and then made Chicago their home after the war. Macri has a familial connection to this heritage, and the piece’s solemnity makes it feel a bit like a prayer of remembrance.
Nick Macri & Mono No Aware’s Amache is available through Bandcamp.