Smooth jazz pioneer and inadvertent godfather of hip-hop break-beats, Bob James is about to add another accolade to his list of accomplishments. At this weekend's 14th Tokyo Jazz Festival, the keyboardist will debut his first piano concerto.

While James has worn many hats in the past half-century, composing and performing for a symphony is untested waters. Interestingly, however, the project has a Japan-inspired genesis.

"Tokyo Jazz Festival is produced by a lady named Atsuko Yashima," James says. "She has become a really good friend. She invited me (to the festival) and was the primary reason why I participated in a documentary four years ago related to the (Great East Japan Earthquake). I wanted to show my support and I ended up performing at a jazz festival in Iwate Prefecture."