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BEST BETS: Saturday 5/15

8 pm: Dance

May 13, 1999

Two years ago, L.A. Chamber Ballet co-founder and choreographer Raiford Rogers teamed up with bassist-composer and mambo noir icon Joey Altruda for a full-evening exploration of lounge culture titled "Cocktails With Joey." Featuring Altruda's 18-member band, the piece has now been expanded with three newly composed mambos, two new dance sections and costumes designed by Layne Nielson based on the fashions he created in the 1960s with the late Rudi Gernreich. However, even Nielson's fancy duds are unlikely to eclipse Altruda: In 1997, he wore a black smoking jacket with lavender lapels that, all by itself, made "Cocktails With Joey" the last word in sleek retro style.

* "Cocktails With Joey," Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State L.A., 5151 State University Drive, East L.A. 8 p.m. $22 (students, seniors) to $42. (323) 343-6600.

all day: Gardens

Stemming from the idea that a great garden is a living work of art, the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program is a way of taking a peek at some masterpieces held in private collections. The home of Merrill and Donivee Nash in Arcadia features hundreds of roses. The Pasadena hacienda owned by George Martin and Jim Watterson has a classic Mediterranean garden, cactus garden, 70-year-old wisteria arbor and colonnade. In San Marino, the gardens of Robert D. Volk are conceived as series of rooms. Clara's rose garden in Sierra Madre includes 2,500 rose bushes surrounding a Georgian colonial home.

* Garden Conservancy's Open Days. Nash gardens, 1014 Hampton Road, Arcadia. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Martin-Watterson gardens, gate in 800 block of South San Rafael Avenue, Pasadena. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Volk gardens, at Avondale and Orlando roads, San Marino, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Clara's rose garden, 282 E. Highland Ave., Sierra Madre, 2-6 p.m. $4 each. (888) 842-2442. Directories also available for purchase at the Arboretum of Los Angeles County.

8 am: Architecture

In Frank Capra's 1937 film "Lost Horizon," Ojai was the location used for the mythical paradise Shangri-la. On Saturday's daylong tour, "Shangri-La: The Architecture of Ojai," the focus is on real-life paradise as architectural gems by Charles and Henry Greene, Richard Neutra, Charles Moore and other noted California architects are showcased.

* "Shangri-La: The Architecture of Ojai," 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. The bus will depart at 8 a.m. from Brentwood Magnet School, 740 Gretna Green Ave., Brentwood. Tickets: Society for Architectural Historians members, $69; nonmembers, $89. Price includes bus transportation and a private luncheon. Advance reservations are required: (310) 472-4799.

11:30 am: Art

Dreamlike images of the subconscious are detailed in the fanciful paintings of Gerardo Chavez in "Rhythms of the Fantastic," opening Saturday at the Museum of Latin American Art. The first major U.S. exhibition devoted to the Peruvian artist will touch on the many styles Chavez has demonstrated in his career, from his surrealist paintings of the 1960s to his recent paintings of colorful carousel horses.

* "Gerardo Chavez: Rhythms of the Fantastic," Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Sundays, noon-6 p.m. Ends Aug. 22. The artist will present a lecture and tour of the exhibition at 1 p.m. Sunday. Adults, $5; students and seniors, $3. (562) 437-1689.

all day: Festival

The planting started last fall, but now it's time to reap the rewards in Oxnard, where more than one-fourth of the state's strawberries are grown. The California Strawberry Festival will celebrate all things related to the tasty fruit with musical performances, an art show, and rides and shows for kids. But the real draw is the food: strawberry kabob, pizzas, tarts, shortcakes, pies or just fresh fruit from the field.

* California Strawberry Festival, Saturday and Sunday, 1 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at Strawberry Meadows of College Park, 3250 S. Rose Ave., Oxnard. $7; $4, children. (888) 288-9242.

11 am: Jazz

It's an unbeatable combination: smooth jazz and bay breezes. And that's exactly what the annual Newport Beach Jazz Festival offers, two days of smooth and fusion jazz acts including saxophonists Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum and Najee, guitarists Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton, the Rippingtons, trumpeter Rick Braun and a host of others over two days on two stages on the golf course of this beautiful bayside resort.

* Sixth Annual Newport Beach Jazz Festival, Hyatt Newporter, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach. $30 daily, two-day pass $50, VIP tickets (includes backstage access and reserved seating) $125. (949) 650-5483.

*

FREEBIES: The Port of Los Angeles offers hourlong boat tours Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Ports O' Call Village at Harbor Boulevard and 6th Street in San Pedro, (800) 831-PORT.

A variety of jazz artists will perform on the plaza at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (310) 449-4070.

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