When local jazz stalwart Joe Bourne steps out on stage, he starts with a plan that's always open to adjustment depending on the rhythms of the night.
Bourne says he goes where the mood and crowd take him.
"I start out with a set list, but someone might call out something," Bourne said with a chuckle.
Bourne, who will headline Dove of Peace Lutheran Church's Jazz Under the Stars event for the third year in a row, said he returns to the gig because he enjoys its feel. The free event starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the church, at 665 W. Roller Coaster Road.
"I like the atmosphere," Bourne said. "It's really the fact that it is outside in the summer in a nice little courtyard. The sound is actually good."
Although the jazz event is set at a church, the only spirituality served up is of the secular, musical variety.
Dove of Peace music minister Eric Holtan, who founded and conducts the Tucson Chamber Artists choir, said the jazz festival has drawn crowds of more than 300.
"It draws a whole bunch of people," he said. "The church is committed to providing quality experiences, whether they're jazz or classical."
Bourne said that despite the setting, the feel of the event is laid-back.
"It's not a churchlike event. It's strictly a jazz concert," Bourne said. "It's a mixed crowd, from young to old, which is great. It's made up of people who love jazz and blues music."
Bourne, who has performed with the likes of Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, The Pointer Sisters and Dionne Warwick, is going strong at age 70, often performing as many as eight shows a month.
Born in Cambridge, Mass., Bourne performed as part of several groups and made TV commercials for Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines before moving to Europe to perform for the American and Dutch militaries.
He and his wife, Flory, moved to Tucson for the warm, dry climate in 2000. Bourne said he's evolved as a performer over the years, and shakes his head when he sees how raw he was in performances when he was younger.
"I watch some of my old video from time to time to get a laugh from that," he said. "I have advanced from that time. People thought that I was strong and good at that time, and yet as I look back I see a lot of things that I've learned to improve on, vocally as well as stage presence-wise. That comes from just doing. Being able to perform in every type of situation."
Holtan said he keeps asking Bourne to perform the show because he's so pleased with the results.
"He's really good," Holtan said. "He sings jazz standards. He's a crooner and has a following himself. When he comes to our church to perform, his fan base shows up. He's high-quality. Very charismatic. He engages the audience, and people appreciate that."
Bourne said he's up for a good time and is hoping those who are interested in the same thing join him Saturday.
"If you want to have fun and a good time, this would be the place to be," Bourne said. "Because we will have some fun."
IF YOU GO
• What: Jazz Under the Stars.
• Where: Dove of Peace Lutheran Church, 665 W. Roller Coaster Road.
• Admission: Free.
• For more information: Call 887-5127.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org