Some great suggestions. Where to start is a good question- I haven't listened to + Four & More
for a long time; that's as good a place as any and his ride playing alone should be framed. VSOP
was the first album where I heard Tony's playing. I was listening to a lot of fusion/prog rock music at the time, and (for me) he blew all of those type of players out of the water.
Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch
, shows an abstract side to Tony, who was only 18 at the time of the recording. The way breaks up the time is uncanny:
Also, to get a better idea of where he was coming from, you could listen to the people he was heavily influenced by: Art Blakey (his sense of swing), Max Roach (his technique and melodic sense), Philly Joe (his creativity), Roy Haynes (the way he spread the time) and Alan Dawson (who helped formally develop his playing). I would mention Elvin, except that I hear a kind of parallel development in their playing.
And as a baby boomer who came of age in the '60s, he was influenced by the Beatles and a lot of rock drummers like Moon, Bonham & Charlie Watts (who certainly idolized him). You can hear how their approach crept into his playing in some of his later Lifetime stuff.
Oh yeah- don't forget the bass players. From Richard Davis, Ron Carter, Dave Holland and Jack Bruce- he always had the best. Here's another favorite of mine. Like most of his work, he plays like it's the last time he'll ever pick up a pair of sticks: