Saxophonist extraordinaire Khris Royal and his band Dark Matter will be throwing it down this Saturday, October 8th, at The Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans, LA in support of an incredible “OKTOBERFUNK” lineup that will also feature Royal, as well as Galactic trombonist Corey Henry, Dumpstaphunk guitarist/bassist Tony Hall, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue guitarist Pete Murano, and drummer extraordinaire Simon Lott.

We asked Royal to tell us about his top 10 favorite saxophonists of all-time. The list features some classic horn players along with some modern-day musicians, all of whom have influenced Royal’s unique style. Details about the OKTOBERFUNK show this Saturday can be found here.

1. Charlie Parker

Charlie “Bird” Parker changed the way everyone played the saxophone when he and Dizzy Gillespie invented bebop. Bird’s technique raised the bar for every saxophonist that followed.

2. John Coltrane

In middle school, I attended a jazz camp at Loyola University. One day, while practicing in a practice room, I found a CD under the piano. It was John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. At this age, I didn’t know anything about music theory, but I knew from older cats that “Giant Steps” was the hardest song on the planet to play. So, I decided to give it a try. They weren’t kidding, Coltrane is a master.

3. Julian “Cannonball” Adderley

When I was really young, like 2 or 3 years old, I used to spend pretty much every day at my grandparents while my mother and father worked. Every now and then, my grandfather would play records as I sat and played with my toys. One of the records was The Cannonball Adderley Quintet’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy live at “The Club”. A few years later in elementary school, I remember being so excited because our school band played song. I don’t know what music programs at other schools in other cities are like but in New Orleans we definitely get a head start.

4. Maceo Parker

Maceo laid down the foundation for funk sax playing. I don’t know of a “funk” horn language prior to Maceo’s work with James Brown. When I was a freshmen in high school I was something a Jazz purist. I don’t know where I picked it up because my parents listened to literally every genre of music and you can hear that when you hear my band Dark Matter. I didn’t really start doing my homework on Mr. Parker till I started hanging around Sam Kinninger while attending Berklee. More on Sam later.

5. Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison has had an huge impact on my playing. I first met him when I was 12 years old. He’s always pushed me to go back and study the masters. One on the biggest things he’s instilled in is tradition. He’s also taught me to be versatile. He’s played with everyone from Miles Davis to Biggie Smalls.

6. Branford Marsalis

I love Branford’s playing. He is one of the few cats on the planet that knows the entire history of the saxophone and can play it. He is a master of all styles. He has even recorded and performed classical music. While studying with the great New Orleans Clarinetist and Jazz educator Alvin Batiste at NOCCA, I began to study classical music for the first time. I was amazed to find out that Branford was able to go from playing classical to playing jazz to playing pop with Sting.

7. Kenny Garrett

I was about 11 years old when my dad brought home Kenny Garrett’s album Song Book. At first I didn’t really dig his tone, but by the time I got half way through the second track, I was hooked. Kenny had played a major role in the way I play. One of the things I love the most about him is his versatility. He’s one of those cats that can play everything from straight ahead to funk to fusion to smooth Jazz.

8. Joshua Redman

As you can see by now, I tend to favor players that aren’t just locked into straight-ahead jazz or pop based music, and Joshua Redman is definitely one of those cats. I listened to a lot of his contemporary Jazz music throughout high school. My junior year of high school, he put out an album entitled Elastic. It’s a very cool mix of modern Jazz in a organ trio setting featuring own of my all time favorite drummers and Louisiana native Brian Blade on drums and Sam Yahel on organ and keyboards. His use of modern jazz harmony had a huge influence on the way I write music.

9 and 10. Sam Kininger & Ryan Zoidis (The Original Shady Horns)

It was a cold Tuesday night in Boston. My big brother and sister, James Casey, Nikki Glaspie and I, were sitting in the media center at Berklee around 9:00PM, when the mentioned to me that Sam Kininger was playing up the street at Wally’s. I thought they were joking. I couldn’t believe it, the cat I had been shedding for the summer prior to heading to Boston had been playing every Tuesday a few blocks from school and I didn’t know it. That trip to Wally’s changed my life. It’s led to life long connections with cats like Sam, Eric Krasno, Adam Deitch, Eric Bloom and Nigel Hall.

I first met Ryan at a Soulive show at Northeastern. He immediately reminded me of Sam, but it was different. He had the Maceo thing, but he also had this RnB element in his playing that I thought was really hip. He was also one of the first cats I saw use pedals other than Roy Hargrove and Russell Gunn. I started experimenting with pedals in high school and Ryan’s playing showed me I was on the right track. Nowadays, with Lettuce, he’s been taking it to outerspace by using and Guitar synth on the sax.