After a career that included performing alongside musicial greats like John Coltrane, Davis succumbed to a heart attack last Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Noted jazz critic Nat Hentoff remembered Davis as a man whose musical talents were only matched by his personal integrity.
"As a person, he had enormous integrity," Hentoff said. "He wouldn't bend to accommodate bias or the ignorance of some of the people in the music business."
That integrity may have caused Davis to come under fire during much of the 1970s, but ultimately his efforts against industry racism lead to the creation of the blind audition.
The so-called practice of listening to musicians without seeing them came into being as a result of a lawsuit introduced by Davis.
The Times said that the equal rights pioneer and jazz great is survived by his sons, Kimaili and Mureithi, and his daughter, Taisha Jack.