Sadar Bahar Jan 30th 2008

Deep house jams in good hands with Sadar Bahar
By Ytasha L. Womack Special to the Tribune
If you thought the late-1980s deep house scene was a thing of the past, lost in dusty records and Mendel Catholic High School yearbooks, you might not know Sadar Bahar. Known as “the deejay’s deejay,” Sadar Muhammad Bahar is one of the few to play old-school house and rare disco exclusively. “A lot of stuff I play, [other deejays] don’t play,” said Bahar. “Maybe they’ll find it years later, if they’re lucky,” he said, laughing. However, Bahar’s penchant for discovering lost hits and rare grooves has made him legendary, earning him renown as one of the “deepest” deejays around. “He does his own thing,” said Eric “Boolumaster” W. of WPWX-FM 92.3. He doesn’t care what other cats are playing. He’ll find those B-side records that are hot. He just plays good music. He’s straight underground and I love him for being that way.” Bahar began deejaying during the height of the house music era, in the mid-’80s. “I grew up around deejays,” said Bahar, a South Side native. “Steve `Silk’ Hurley, Eric Taylor, Charles Breckenridge, we grew up in the same neighborhood.” However, while other house deejays hosted large bashes or went on to producing, Bahar remained largely underground, spinning in Chicago, New York, Miami and overseas. He even worked the local roller rink circuit, known for its affinity for James Brown cuts and old funk songs. “I deejayed at the Glenwood Roller Rink for 15 years,” he said. But Bahar’s dedication to his craft has garnered respect, if not more widespread fame. Several deejays, upon retirement, handed Bahar their entire collection. “They knew I’d do them justice,” said Sadar. “That’s great that he’s keeping the tradition alive,” said Grammy award winning producer and local NARAS chapter president Hurley. He remembers Bahar’s early days: “There’s no way if you’re playing the best music that you can overlook the early house or disco.” Although Bahar plays house, you won’t hear popular, track-laden songs or programmed disco. “I like live instrumentation,” said Bahar, “especially if it has a good vocalist.” Funk jazz by Roy Ayers and Black Smoke, disco by Minnie Riperton, B-side dance songs by Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells, or Afrobeat by Fela Kuti are just a sample of the hard-to-find tunes Bahar throws into the mix. “I’m always looking for something deeper that no one else is playing,” said Bahar, who scours music stores, thrift shops and libraries across the globe for classic records. “I have about 14,000 records in all,” he says. “I probably have one of the largest Fela collections on wax, too.” While many Chicago deejays have fans, Bahar’s style of mixing has spawned a devout underground following affectionately known as Sadarnites–a hodgepodge of music lovers, house heads and professional dancers, who have been known to dance in a heated frenzy for eight hours straight. Take his legendary parties at Slick’s, an all day jam that kicked off at 3 p.m. and lasted after midnight. “We had to blacken the windows to give people the impression that it was night,” said Bahar. “His audience goes crazy because he’s playing to the point where you catch feelings,” said Boolumaster W. “It’s like, `Oh my God, this guy’s snapping.'” But it’s this spirit of freedom through movement, and music inspired fun, a core element of old school house, that Bahar wants to encourage. “People think we’re on something different,” said Bahar, “but it’s just music.”

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