The Melting Pot in Elgin Street is a buzzing place, so it is rare to find it empty, even on a Wednesday evening. The club has a new midweek resident band - led by singer/drummer Larry Hammond, billed as 'the Soul Preacher' - and word is they are good. As it happens Hammond is out of town and his regular associate, guitarist Cary Abrams, has thrown together a scratch ensemble for the night. They do the professional thing, performing two full sets with absolute commitment for an audience of one that briefly rises to three. Abrams is a New Yorker who has been around Hong Kong for a number of years, having originally come here with a band called Lunar Eclipse which played at the New World Hotel's Catwalk. Like Hammond, pianist Allen Youngblood and saxophonist Vastine Pettis, who all came here with resident bands at the Grand Hyatt's JJ's, when his contract was up he decided to stay in town. The city acquires many of its resident expatriate jazzmen that way. Abrams has worked as a studio session man and a road musician in the US, playing on TV commercials and movie soundtracks as well as covering the guitar parts for rock and jazz acts, including Joe Sample of the Crusaders. He also works regularly with the other musicians who have joined him at the Melting Pot, but what makes the evening interesting is that this is the first time Abrams has played with Zane Massey, a tenor saxophonist. Massey, also now a Hong Kong resident, is a second generation jazzman: his father was trumpeter, composer and arranger Cal Massey, who played with and wrote for John Coltrane, among others. Zane Massey has been a member of drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, performing 'free funk' which applies the principles and liberty of free jazz improvisation to funk rhythms; he has also played with Sun Ra. The Melting Pot is a cellar bar in which Massey seems at home, perhaps because he put in some time playing in New York's subways, leading a band of high calibre musicians who played around Grand Central Station, called Muny or Music Under New York. Tenor sax and guitar working in close partnership can be a highly effective combination and such is the case with Abrams and Massey's phrasing that comes off in a natural, complementary way, leading Abrams to muse that this may be the birth of a band. They certainly have the rhythm section. Pianist Adonis de Jesus, bassist Dylan Lye and drummer Musafer Hassan Mohammed lay down some strong, funky grooves as well as contributing their own effective solos. No name has yet been determined, but the scratch band are now rehearsing more seriously. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next.