(5 out of 5 stars)
"The following is David Denton's review from the January/February 2000 issue of Fanfare: I am still trying to work out the reason for the disc's title, though Jonathan Faiman and Friends would have been appropriate, the program having been derived from this musical relationship. Faiman pursues a career as pianist, teacher, vocal coach, and composer, and in these various roles has come into contact with the New York City musicians featured in this release. Stylistically they are very different, their inspirational roots embracing the tonal and atonal schools of composition. Though each provides a most interesting contribution to the disc, it is the very personal musical voice of Faiman that strikes me as particularly interesting. The Sonata dating from 1992 and revised in 1996 is in direct lineage of Copland and Barber, each of the four movements nicely contrasted in mood and rhythm. The mercurial scherzo is a most absorbing experience, the music sizzling with vitality. Five Vaults refers to the gymnastic activity, and requires the soloist to perform tests of agility in a score of wit and charm. Eric Samuelson was born in Cincinnati in 1970, and now combines his work as a composer with an educational Career at Union County College in New Jersey. His Sonata of 1997 moves with perplexing rapidity between the influences of Rossini, Berlioz, and Chopin, the 19th-century waltz of the second movement coming as a complete surprise after the aggressive opening Allegro. To introduce the "Lost Shadow Rag" as the fifth and final movement is certainly indicative of a fresh approach to piano-sonata form. Derek Bermel also enjoys a dual musical role, his clarinet virtuosity having taken him throughout North America and Europe. He still embraces tonality in his works, the pulse of the final "Jaunt" being quite irresistible. Dodecaphunk was his student project, a twelve-tone jazz fugue, the resulting score being lively and somehow managing to revert to a form of tonality. The remaining major work, in terms of duration, comes from David MacDonald [sic], and was, in the composer's words, "inspired by the Baroque keyboard suites," though the result has a very progressive modernity to the texture. The dramatic and highly charged Dynamophone from the immensely talented David Shohl; Maracaibo, a brief work of considerable melodic attraction from Buffalo-born Ken Sullivan; and a suitable chilling Winter Again and the whimsical Desire Rag from Ricky Ian Gordon complete the disc. Faiman is a most agile pianist, surmounting each musical challenge with apparent ease. Above all his performances have come from deep inside him, that security with which he plays each work conveying his total commitment to the music. The recording engineers have added a superb tonal quality, with Faiman also taking the role of the session producer. I would also like to acknowledge the fact that it is very welcome to encounter a release in which the gap between the works is so extended as to give the listener ample breathing space."