Sugar Pie DeSanto first hit the national R & B charts in 1960 with “I Want to Know,” a single for Oakland’s Veltone label, but she’s best known for her later work on Checker, a Chess subsidiary. “Slip-In Mules,” her sassy reply to Tommy Tucker’s “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” lasted 14 weeks on the Cash Box chart in 1964; subsequent outings like “Soulful Dress” and “Go Go Power” also sold well, but after 1966’s “In the Basement,” a feisty bad-girl anthem that paired her with Etta James, DeSanto faded from the national scene. In the last few years she’s launched a comeback, and she seems determined to avoid the nostalgia trap: 1993’s Sugar Is Salty and last year’s Classic Sugar Pie (both on Jasman) are arresting fusions of tradition and experimentation. “Jump in My Chest” and the string-drenched ballad “How Many Times,” for example, would fit comfortably in the repertoire of any retro southern soulster; but “Boom-Boom Song” embraces hip-hop even as DeSanto’s lyrics wittily chide the genre’s excesses, and “Super Fool” is a hard-edged blues augmented by heavy synthesizer. DeSanto’s voice has thickened over the years, but she can still ascend from sultry to sanctified in a single phrase, and her rhythm is unerring: she snaps out her lyrics in whiplike cadences, as tight as the percussion behind her. An electrifying performer who learned a thing or two about stage presence in the James Brown revue in 1959 and ’60, DeSanto claims she can still pull off her trademark back flips at age 62–and what with the energy she’s brought to her recent studio recordings, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true. Saturday, 10 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.