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Just Your Average Backyard Concert

October 02, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

One way to make sure that a performance is well received is to host it at your home, which is just what guitarist Lee Ritenour did Thursday night. The jazz fusion artist, who has recorded more than 20 albums, is breaking into the classical genre with his newest release, "Two Worlds," with pianist Dave Grusin. Ritenour and his wife, Carmen, opened their gorgeous, cliffside Point Dume home to about 200 friends and music execs, who were treated to hors d'oeuvres from Granita and a mini-concert by a 22-piece orchestra.

"It's hard to be nervous in your own backyard," joked Ritenour. "If anyone complains, there's not much they can do."

Producer-director Sydney Pollack was happy to co-host, he said, because he has collaborated with Grusin and Ritenour for years. (Grusin scored Pollack's "Tootsie" and "Three Days of the Condor," and Ritenour's guitar work has been featured in several Pollack films.)

Guests entering the ultra-modern, minimally decorated home (featured in "Home & Garden" and "Architectural Digest") caught on quickly that shoes were forbidden on the blond hardwood floors. The Ritenours didn't leave anyone in the lurch, though. Sitting in the entry was a basket of two dozen or so pairs of beaded velvet Chinese slippers, and this sign: "Shoes give me the blues." (I was tempted to upgrade to someone else's Pradas, but then I came to my senses.)

After an hour of mingling around the yard's moss-covered orbs and uplit palms, we descended to the tennis court. Guests, including pianist David Benoit and trumpeter Herb Alpert, settled on white leather sofas and ottomans for the half-hour performance and gazed up at the house, which was swathed in sunset-orange light.

A crane-mounted camera filmed the show for a Web cast, which Universal Classics Chair and CEO Chris Roberts joked would be seen by "maybe five people."

A seaside home, flowing wine and music under the stars . . . I could live the Malibu life. Ritenours, if you ever need a house-sitter, I'm available. Any time. Really.

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L.A. is gearing up for another fashion moment: Valentino will celebrate 40 years of dressing the world's stylish Nov. 17 at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. The gala, co-hosted by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, and Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, will feature the couturier's latest designs, and an exhibition of photographs to be auctioned, with proceeds donated to the L.A.-based Children's Action Network.

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Anyone who has spent time in New York City recently surely has noticed the fiberglass cows decorated by local artists and sprinkled like so many bovine pies around the city. Well, L.A. will have its own version of the "Cow Parade" come February, when dozens of angels will decorate the city.

It won't be the first time angels have graced Southland streets. After the 1992 riots, artist Jill D'Agnenica placed 4,687 12-inch plaster angels around the city for a year as an act of personal prayer. Next year's "Community of Angels" project will feature human-size angels, which organizers stress are not religious. The angels will remain on display in L.A. around town until May, when they will be auctioned for charity.

Assuming they can survive on the streets until then.

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