Circles are infinitely symbolic in their geometric design and interpretation-no beginning and no end, directionally ambiguous, enclosing an extended infinite inner dimensional space. In Circles, his first CD as a leader, tenor saxophonist Larry Johnson steps up to deliver a dozen fine selections displaying that he's definitely no musical square. He sounds as if he knows where he's headed musically -and that direction will not be going around endlessly in a never-ending artistic circle. Long a presence on the St. Louis music scene, Johnson and his small jazz-rock-oriented ensemble deliver a handful of friendly rock classics and very nicely reworked jazz warhorses-those playing out especially nice for Johnson's full-bodied sounding tenor saxophone. While not a pure jazz session, there's enough here to satisfy admirers of enthusiastic improvisation. Kicking off the disc with two well-known rock hits-a sincere and nicely funky cover of Billy Preston's 'Will It Go 'Round in Circles,' followed by Steely Dan's triple-metered and quasi-modal hit 'Do It Again'-Johnson's sound is both inviting and highly energized throughout the session. 'Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing,' from the Stevie Wonder songbook, is given the Latin treatment, while the inclusion of Vince Guaraldi's 'The Great Pumpkin Waltz' shows a slick producer's touch. Johnson first exposes his late-night/early-morning soul deeply on Mal Waldron's 'Soul Eyes.' Subsequently taking excursions into classic tenor land, he take on 'Body and Soul,' 'My One and Only Love,' and 'Speak Low,' demonstrating a more muscular-sounding approach. 'Nothing But Blues' has that 'Killer Joe' feel and cooks with a fine ensemble, while Wayne Shorter's 'Black Nile' flows hot.