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Friday, February 4, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sound Check

Afripop Band Smell No Taste Plays Unique Jazzy ''Nuclear World Beat''

Who are they: Won-Ldy Paye, lead vocals, congas. Originally from Liberia and sings in "pidgin" English.

Matt Conway, drums. Has played with bands African Roots, African Gumbay, Living Dolls and Go Fish.

Mark Joe Gbaryu, djembe, vocals. Has performed with the Liberian National Dance Troupe and danced and drummed with Dimension Dance Theater.

John Draper, saxophone. Has played with The Swingland Express and Dr. Roscoe and with vocalists Odessa Swan and Nora Michaels.

Marty Molloy, brasswinds, WX7 synthesizer, composer arranger. Has played in jazz, salsa, African and Brazilian bands.

Hal Brooks, lead guitar, vocals.

Reginald Watts, keyboards.

Brian Chambers, bass guitar. Has played with Je Ka Jo and Horns O' Plenty Orchestra.

Smell No Taste is high-powered Afripop that combines traditional African music like high-life and West African soukous with blues guitar, funky keyboards and jazzy horns. The result is an infectious dance music mix of reggae, rumba, calypso and Zulu jive, described by members as "nuclear world beat."

Members of the eight-piece group, which has been performing for a year and a half, come from Liberia, England and Seattle.

The band's strength lies in its energetic, rhythmic performances. Often the members improvise and take solos, and songs rarely sound the same.

"For people who like to dance, we are the best," says lead singer Won-Ldy Paye. "Because we don't joke. We burn your socks off your feet . . . bands hate performing after us, because we always steal the show."

The band's name, Smell No Taste, is a misnomer of the small Liberian town, Sme No Tae. As Paye explains it, tourists often spend time in the bars of the town during stopovers, because it is near an airport. The name is often pronounced as "smell no taste," which also describes the relationship between tourist and town.

"They can smell the city, but they don't taste it," says Paye.

"It's like flirting," adds drummer Conway. "You flirt with the city, and the city flirts with you, but you don't get a taste."

Where to hear them:

Smell No Taste will play Feb. 20 at the Fenix Underground, 323 Second Ave. S. (343-7740) as part of African Beat Night.

Also performing will be L'Orchestra Afrisound and Shakata. Show starts at 9 p.m.

They will also play two sets Feb. 19 at Bainbridge Island Center Hall, shows at 8:30 and 10 p.m.

Do you have a band suggestion for Soundcheck? Please send information, photo and demo tape to Vanessa Ho at The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111 (attention: Arts and Entertainment). Or call 464-3718.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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