Whenever Miles Davis wanted to recognize the contributions of his band members at Constitution Hall Tuesday night, he didn't waste his breath. He simply lifted one of six placards over his head, each bearing the name of one of his young collaborators, including his 19-year-old son and percussionist, Erin.
Due to the hall's notoriously poor acoustics, Erin and drummer Ricky Wellman never achieved a crisply focused sound as the septet moved through the kind of kinetic funk-fusion and languid blues found on Davis's recent albums "Amandla" and "Tutu," as well as the pop lyricism that characterized "You're Under Arrest."
The horns fared much better, though. Alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, who came up through Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, often played with the searing tone and intense drive associated with that band. Rocking back and forth at the lip of the stage at one point, he generated the evening's most exultant solo, a far cry from a few tit-for-tat displays of virtuosity that later developed.
Davis contributed splashes of synth colors at the keyboard and engaged in intimate tutorial sessions with both Garrett and guitarist Joseph Foley, a fiery blues-rock guitarist reminiscent of Ernie Isley. But mostly Davis strolled about with his head bowed, adding bursts of glinting notes from his muted trumpet to the funk and atmospheric pieces and soulfully reworking the melodies of "Human Nature" and "Time After Time." And if anyone thought the most enigmatic figure in jazz wasn't enjoying himself, a playful call-and-response exchange with the audience suggested otherwise.