He played with Cootie Williams, Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie, as well as leading his own bands and making many recordings as a leader. He played in the swing, bop, hard bop, Latin jazz, and soul jazz genres. Some of his recordings of the 1940s also could be classified as rhythm and blues. His 1946 band, Eddie Davis and His Beboppers, featured Fats Navarro, Al Haig, Huey Long, Gene Ramey and Denzil Best.
In the 1950s he was playing with Sonny Stitt, while from 1960 to 1962 he and fellow tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin led a quintet. From the mid-60s, Davis and Griffin also performed together as part of The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, along with other, mainly European, jazz musicians.