Most folks who focus attention to the mandolin are also aware of its close cousin, the mandola. We don’t see the instrument much in bluegrass, but it does make an appearance from time to time, as many professional mandolinists also have one in their collection.
The mandola bears the same relationship to the mandolin as the viola does to the violin, or fiddle. In fact, it is tuned just like a viola, in pairs, as the mandolin is tuned like a fiddle. It was common during the era of the mandolin orchestras in the early part of the 20th century, and the Gibson company built many fine examples when they were located in Kalamazoo, MI. There are luthiers today who continue to build mandolas, but the demand is far lower than for its smaller kinsman.
Not many artists dedicate themselves primarily to the instrument, but one who does is Jozef Scheiner, a Slovak mandolinist who became enthralled with the mandola a few years ago, and has recently released an album of music he has written for it. Scheiner has a previous recording, Perinmama, he made on mandolin for David Grisman’s Acoustic Oasis label in 2014, which shows how greatly Jozef was influenced by Dawg music.
He explained a bit about how his latest project came to be.
“I fell in love with the magical sound of the mandola three years ago. I decided to make some compositions for the H-5 mandola, and other instruments. The mandola was specially crafted for this project by Czech luthier, Miroslav Váňa. I recorded the album entitled La Mando in the company of musicians from the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic. They are renowned bluegrass and jazz musicians performing around the world. For example, the bass player, Juraj Griglák, has collaborated with musicians such as Poogie Bell.”
Jozef shared the music video he produced for the opening track, Shlapanitsa, which shows the elements of bluegrass, jazz, and Dawg music which have informed his style.
Scheiner, who is known to friends as “Dodo,” is accompanied by Stanislav Palúch on fiddle, Ladislav Muroň on flute, Michal Vavro on guitar, Peter Szabados on reso-guitar, Igor “Ajdži” Sabo on drums, and Peter Korman on bass.
The video was shot and edited by Zuzana Rybárová Slančíková, a photographer and videographer in Slovakia.
La Mando is available digitally from Jozef’s bandcamp page.