by Angel Park
In honor of the 40th anniversary of Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Philadelphia based jazz band Aaron and The Spell performed on Wednesday at The World Cafe. The show mesmerized their all-ages audience, and the room was filled with nothing but smiles during the hour long set.
The show was headed by Pathways PA, an organization created to provide the homeless individuals in the city of Philadelphia with housing and resources. After a quick presentation previewing the organization’s goals, Aaron Brown, donned in a simple T-shirt and jeans, took the stage.
“How are y’all doing tonight?” His warm voice boomed across the audience. They cheer, and Brown takes this as a cue to pick up his guitar and strum the opening chords to “By My Side,” the band’s bold first single off their first album, Sing. Brown’s voice rings especially sharp when he hits the second verse, singing, “I’ve been strugglin’ to keep my head above water, feels like drowning.” His words are raw with emotion, and there’s not a single pair of arms that isn’t in the air at that point, clapping and urging him on.
The band’s soulful energy carries on throughout the next couple songs, including into “Love Is Fair” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” two beloved hits by Stevie Wonder. Accompanied by a tenor sax player, a bassist, a keyboardist, drummer and lovely back up singers, Brown lead the way into a heartwarming revelation of the group’s talents. Their covers played smooth, and there wasn’t a moment where the crowd didn’t sing along.
Things even took a turn for the sillier when Brown stooped down to jam on stage between songs, and the motion was contagious. Soon everyone in the audience started moving, some tapping their feet or goofily rolling their arms to the cadence of the drums. By the end of it all, everyone was left with sore feet and shoulders, but not a single person left unhappy that night. Given the event’s charitable cause and even better music, it’s an experience that everyone should be able to see at least once, avid jazz fans or not.
And as always, dancing is highly encouraged at these events.