In "Jazz", Garry Giddins and Scott DeVeaux tell us that Monk is the second most widely performed jazz composer, second to Duke Ellington. Consider though, that Ellington wrote over 1500 pieces: Monk wrote around 70. What is the something that keeps performers coming back and back to those strange and beguiling pieces? If you go and look at the leadsheet for "Reflections" you'll see just 32 bars sparsely sprinkled with notes. Yet this musical DNA, in the hands and minds of talented artists, gives rise to a whole family of musical offspring, each different, each resonant with Monkishness. Try Reflections enigmatically from Donald Fagen & Steve Khan, or quirkily from (anonomous ukelelist) or smoothly, beautifully from Wynton Marsalis. Seems you can even dance to it (if you have to).
I don't have the musical theory to know why this is so: why Monk's DNA, his musical memes, are so fruitful. I just rejoice in them, and in that feeling of triumph when somehow, from the jagged jumpiness of the notes on the page, I manage to get something that briefly reveals that flow and that Monkish feel. Which of these many versions inspires me most? Why, this one: Caleb Curtis's dreamy, beautiful rendition.
Oh, and Thelonious Monk's middle name was Sphere. Really. How cool is that?