Boiler Room: an hour with Ron Trent (DJ Mix)

Ron Trent

Boiler Room: an hour with Ron Trent (DJ Mix)

For Ron Trent, mixing is akin to storytelling. And for his an hour with set for Boiler Room and Apple Music, the legendary DJ, a veteran of Chicago and New York’s soulful-house scenes, was intent upon telling a very specific tale. The New York-based DJ recorded his set in the summer of 2021, just as dance clubs around the world were gingerly beginning to reopen after more than a year of COVID-related lockdowns. “The way I delivered it is very old-school: I take on the ethos of the guys that came before me,” Trent tells Apple Music, naming pioneers like Nicky Siano, David Mancuso, Larry Levan, and Frankie Knuckles. “You listen to the themes in the music, or the moods—it’s putting you somewhere.” Given the stresses of the preceding year and a half, the “where” in this case was simple. Trent says that he wanted to make it “like a summer groove”—happy music for stepping out, seeing old friends, and sharing good times together after being cooped up alone for far too long. In order to create that vibe, Trent looks to classics of an unabashedly feel-good bent. The majority of his selections come from the late ’70s and early ’80s—a magical period in which disco was fading from the mainstream and, having headed back underground, morphing into funky new shapes, paving the way for the arrival of house music a few years later. Trent kicks off with the dreamy Rhodes licks and vocal harmonies of Ned Doheny’s “To Prove My Love,” then slips seamlessly into The McCrarys’ weightless “Love on a Summer Night,” setting up the blissful tenor of the hour to come. What follows is nothing less than an expression of pure, moonlit ecstasy. The falsetto vocals of Edgar Winter’s “Above and Beyond” give off a sweet, almost innocent air; Roy Ayers’ “Don’t Stop the Feeling” is infused with the kind of uplift that Ayers delivers better than just about anyone. Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and Grace Jones’ “Pull Up to the Bumper” make for a pair of crowd-pleasing picks a little over halfway through, while Trent’s own “Pop Dip and Spin” takes dancers on a detour into the deepest reaches of house. After climaxing with Wood Brass & Steel’s “Funkanova”—which heads might know as the source of Black Science Orchestra’s “New Jersey Deep”—Trent takes us out on a velvety note with a soft, slow-dancing R&B number by Philly jazz-fusion group Pieces of a Dream. Even the title suits the story that Trent has spent the past hour telling: “Warm Weather.”

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