It is proof enough of his genius that jazz musicians have found his compositions to be persistently fascinating. "Round Midnight," and "Straight, No Chaser" are among the most frequently covered standards. It is true that a lot of jazz men have been perplexed by his work, especially when they were working with him. But there has been a lot of good pudding.
One place to start is Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk. The title is deceptive. Blakey's Jazz Messengers wasn't a combo, it was a jazz school. One brilliant jazzman after another drifted in and out, while Blakey's drum rhythm kept up the institution. This disc represents Monk 101. Five of the six pieces are Monk standards. One is a Johnny Griffin composition. Griffin is one of the lesser immortals in the jazz pantheon. But he is one of my favorites. He played tenor sax on this session.
Griffin's tenor can also be heard on two lesser known albums recorded live at the Five Spot Cafe. Misterioso, and Thelonious Monk in Action, document these performances. Both are available for a handful of quarters at eMusic. Griffin's ability to enter and master Monk's logic is awesome. This is what jazz is all about: the marriage of intelligence and passion in the realm of melody.