Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1956, Denardo Coleman began playing drums at the age of six. His first appearance on record was on his father's 1966 album The Empty Foxhole, with Charlie Haden on bass. Haden said of Denardo's playing on that recording: He’s going to startle every drummer who hears him. Denardo also featured on his father's later releases, including Ornette at 12 (1968) and Crisis (1969), and played as a member of Ornette's Prime Time ensemble in the 1970s. He also worked with his mother in the band The Firespitters, and has played with Geri Allen, Pat Metheny, James Blood Ulmer, and Jamaaladeen Tacuma.