Aarons was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit. He began to gain attention as a trumpet player in 1956, and started working with jazz artist Yusef Lateef and pianist Barry Harris in the later part of that decade in Detroit. After a period playing with jazz organist Wild Bill Davis, he played trumpet in the Count Basie Orchestra from 1961 to 1969.
In the 1970s, Aarons worked as a sideman for singers Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, and saxophonist Gene Ammons. He was also a contributor to jazz fusion, playing on School Days with Stanley Clarke, and appears with Snooky Young on the classic 1976 album Bobby Bland and B. B. King Together Again...Live.