WELL-TAILORED slouch in a woman is a wonderful thing. An analagous cool in jazz is even finer -- classic, seductive, without the angularity or reversal prejudices of post-bop contention. Jazz saxophonist Candace DeBartolo has adopted a draped-pleat and pushed-up-elbows pose that not only sums up her sleek jazz traditionalism but her self-sufficiency and engaging urchin assurance.

DeBartolo has been in Washington less than a year, but has already begun to establish herself on the jazz scene here, both as a regular member of Keith Killgo's various ensembles (dating from a sit-in at Takoma Sation) and as leader of her own Uptown Jazz Quartet. She moved here from Boca Raton, where she had worked in jazz, Latin and salsa groups while studying at Florida Atlantic University -- a music department professional enough to send its FAU Jazz Band to the Montreux festival, but so financially strapped that music students had to make their own photocopies. And learn to watch the bottom line.

"They taught us to be working musicians," says DeBartolo. "They taught us the tunes, the behavior, the dress," because the students were often hired to back visiting pros. DeBartolo, for instance, headed up Maynard Ferguson's backup band when it came through town and was kept on for his world tour.

The bottom-line training left another trace as well: DeBartolo has her eye on the fame clock. "I don't want to be 40 and still playing clubs," she says, in the jazz version of Jagger's famous (now-abandoned) dictum. "I want to get into recording and world tours; I want to get my name out there." This from a woman who turned 26 four days ago.

DeBartolo has a particularly limpid tone, cleanly defined and explicit and with unusual conviction. Her sax "voice" is confidently articulate, neither nasal in the higher register nor razzy at the bass end; in fact, unlike many jazz performers whose vocalizations imitate their instruments, DeBartolo's playing is clearly informed by her singing. At a slower tempo, she carries a long round line to its vibrato with the weight and grace of a stalk lily; in a swifter tense, she leaves a framing space around her notes -- they almost seem to hang suspended just beyond the bell until the sequence is completed and the circle tied off.

DeBartolo has a strong allegiance to traditional jazz, but with a restless pleasure in contemporary structures. (Not surprisingly, she cites the influence of the elegant and embracing Ella Fitzgerald as well as be-bop ranger Dexter Gordon.)

"The music of the '90s is definitely going to be jazz, but neither the totally traditional nor the fusion/funk -- it's got to be something that draws from each," she says. "Like in {the Killgo} group, we may take an old standard and do something wild in the middle and then come out of it straight. In fact, one of the great things about the band is that rehearsals aren't mandatory -- in fact, we'd rather just discuss the direction a song is going to go."

The Keith Killgo group, which is negotiating a recording contract and hopes to have an album out later this year, plays several nights a week, usually Monday, Thursday and Friday, at the perspicacious Takoma Station (829-1999). This Wednesday they're also showcasing at Blues Alley ($10; 337-4141), with DeBartolo featured on tenor sax and vocals, Killgo on drums, Charles Covington on piano, Kenny Reed on trumpet, Tom Williams on bass and Alfredo Mojica on percussion. The blues-wise Selina McDay will step up to the mike for a few guest vocals as well. In addition, DeBartolo is backing Carla Thomas through Sunday at Anton's 1201 Club.

KICKIN' CHICKEN LEGS: Seeing Bonnie Raitt probably reminded a lot of Washingtonians of the good old days, when she and Catfish Hodge and Freebo (remember Freebo?) and Little Feat and Chicken Legs were always in town at Lisner or the Cellar Door and spoiling us for Top 40. Well, hot on Raitt's heels comes a pseudo-Chicken Legs revival -- the Catfish Hodge Band, with Washington faves Nighthawk Pete Ragusa and Switchblade/Silvertone Johnny Castle, Leg vets Hodge and Mitch Collins and expatriate Dangerous Dan Hovey, still casting a Long Shadow from New York every once in a while.

The Catfish Hodge Band plays Thursday at the Bayou ($8.50; 333-2897) and next Saturday (Aug. 18) at Baltimore's 8 X 10 ($6; 301/625-2000). Hodge, for those of you who have been wondering, has been playing Mr. Mom to two little Catfish in deepest Southern California. Makes us feel communally nostalgic just thinking about it.