Favors primarily played the double bass, but also played the electric bass guitar, banjo, zither, gong, and other instruments. He began playing double bass at the age of 15 and began performing professionally upon graduating high school. Early performances included work with Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard. By 1965, he was a founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and a member of Muhal Richard Abrams‘ Experimental Band.
At some point he added the word “Maghostut” to his name and because of this he is commonly listed as “Malachi Favors Maghostut”. Musically he is most associated with bebop, hard bop, and particularly free jazz.
Favors was a protégé of Chicago bassist Wilbur Ware. His first known recording was a 1953 session with tenor saxophonist Paul Bascomb. He made an LP with Chicago pianist Andrew Hill (1957). Favors began working with Roscoe Mitchell in 1966; this group eventually became the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Favors also worked outside the group, with artists including Sunny Murray, Archie Shepp, and Dewey Redman.