IT'S not the most creative of names, but give the people behind the Memphis Cotton Club some credit for ambition. After all, they will have a hard job living up to the reputation of the club's American namesake. The original club in New York was renowned in the 1920s and 1930s for its hot jazz, featuring legendary figures such as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Die-hard jazz fans may be disappointed as the Hong Kong version is nothing like its forerunner in the Big Apple, but music lovers in general could be in for a pleasant surprise. The club, which joined a growing number of nightspots offering live entertainment when it opened a couple of months ago, is the brainchild of businessman Steven Cheung and stalwart local singers Maria Cordero and Elisa Chan. For Chan, the idea of having a 'live house' had been germinating for some time. When the subject cropped up during a chance meeting with Cordero, the latter lost no time in offering herself as a partner. 'We wanted to open in March and we didn't even know Steven then,' said Chan. Cordero found a venue in what was formerly the Memphis Bar in the Kimberley Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui - and with it, their new partner. Given the entertainment luminaries involved in the project, will patrons be able to watch impromptu performances by the partners themselves? Chan said she does breeze in from time to time to surprise customers with a few numbers (though probably not in the next few weeks while she appears in the production of the home-grown hit musical, I Have A Date With Spring). Cheung added that Canto-pop notables such as Eric Moo, Anthony Lun, and Alan Tam have dropped in, as have composers Ricky Fung and Richard Yuen. But the club has yet to live up to expectations as a place to do a bit of star-spotting, having been touted as a place where performers could hang loose. Cheung said: 'I would like to see one or two nights each week devoted to impromptu jam sessions once things settle. For instance, we've already had Teddy Robin jamming here.' Chan said many of her musician friends have been very supportive. 'But I also understand that even if many other artists would like to be able to play here, they cannot always do it. Besides, some new artists are very green and they haven't jammed with live bands before.' That Saturday night there were no glitterati in attendance. Nonetheless, the clientele, largely made up of thirty-somethings or older, appeared to enjoy themselves. A series of English ballads from local chanteuse Rosanne Lui went down well, but the exclusively Chinese audience showed their approval when she performed a selection of songs made famous by the late Teresa Teng. According to the DJ, Stanley, Sunday nights will be devoted to jazz fusion. Otherwise the club caters for a mainly mainstream audience, drawing on pop, rock and R&B - with a sprinkling of soul and disco. But Cheung insisted the club is different from others by virtue of the variety of performers in its line-up - Danny Summer, Teresa Carpio and Joe Junior are a few of the coming attractions. Cheung, who also operates two other popular nightspots in Tsim Sha Tsui, has set up this latest venue as a members' club. There are two types of membership. Gold, costing $2,888, which gives a year's admission, allows members to bring one guest and has a few perks of the alcoholic kind. Then there is Diamond membership, costing $8,888, which gives free entry for life. Chan still hopes to see her dream of establishing a 'live house' come true, featuring predominantly pop-rock, jazz fusion. 'A place like this will find it very difficult to survive, especially with the market so bad at this time. But I hope that Maria and I can help spread the word,' she said. 'We have to put in a lot of effort, but it is worth it.' To tie in with her stage debut, Chan is planning a promotional offer to those with tickets for I Have A Date With Spring. She also hopes to drop in after her shows to liven things up a little. And, when Spring takes a short break in July, Chan and co-star Alice Lau Ngar-lai will hop on stage for some jam sessions. This Cotton Club does not aim to be upmarket or alternative; it is a comfortable place to meet - and take in some of Hong Kong's finest musical talents.