|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (January 2010)|
Trent played piano since childhood and worked in local bands in Arkansas through his youth. He led his first band in the mid-1920s, possibly as early as 1923. In 1924 he played with Eugene Cook's[disambiguation needed] Synco Six, and then took over leadership of the band, which played until 1934, playing mostly in the American South and Midwest, as well as on steamboats.
He left music in the mid-1930s but returned with another band in 1938. His sidemen included Terrence Holder, Alex Hill, Stuff Smith, Snub Mosley, Charlie Christian, Sweets Edison, Mouse Randolph, and Peanuts Holland. As leader, he recorded only eight sides: four in 1928, two in 1930, and two in 1933.
His small recorded legacy has made him a somewhat obscure figure today, but the sophistication of his arrangements and the precision with which they were executed inspired awe in contemporaries - one such, Budd Johnson (quoted by Gunther Schuller via The Jazz Review) stated:
"Let me tell you about Trent... They were gods back in the twenties, just like Basie was, only many years ahead of him... They worked nothing but the biggest and finest hotels in the South... They were years ahead of their time."