Sugar Pie Desanto is back with "A Slice of Pie," her latest recording for Jasman. It is an album which further confirms her status as one of the best singers around. DeSanto--who was dubbed "Little Miss Sugar Pie" by Johnny Otis--constantly receives good write-ups all over the world, and regularly features in the award nominations, most recently picking up a BAMMIE in 1999.
"Shoppin' Cart Blues" gives the album an excellent start. It is a real classy slow grinding blues with Dale Whitmore (bass) and Michael Skinner (drums) providing the heartbeat of the song. Sweet Nectar provide the heavenly backing vocals to perfectly complement DeSanto's smoky tones. It is one of the best tracks here, although my favorite is probably just the biographical "Hello, San Francisco" which is served up in two parts. The first part (written by Bob Geddins) sees DeSanto giving it her all in front of a big band backing. She then starts off part two (which she co-wrote) by delivering a monologue over some ringing guitar from Lafayette Thomas, before she launches back into blues belter mode.
The closing track ("Blues Express") opens with a drumbeat reminiscent of Issac Hayes' "Shaft", which when coupled with the bass line makes it more suggestive of the Temptations' "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." The rest of the band soon join in, however, and it quickly establishes a life of its own. Like "Hello, San Francisco" it is also delivered as a two parter. The second part, which is the better of the two, sounds more like an alternate take, and includes some more very fine backing vocals from Sweet Nectar again just to nicely round things off.
"A Slice of Pie" shows that Sugar Pie DeSanto is still more than capable of holding her own as a singer. It is an album that has something to cater for most tastes, whether that be blues, R&B, soul or big band. On this evidence I would not bet against her adding to her collection of awards in 2000.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.