Mike Renzi of Middletown, Florida and Boca Raton, Florida died of a brief illness on September 29 at Newport Hospital. Mike was born in Providence, the son of Ernest and Elviarenzi, and is a composer, music director, arranger, pianist and jazz musician. He graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1973 and the Berkeley School of Music the following year.
After graduating, he worked with a local band as an accompaniment to visiting artists. Many of his nights were spent at the King and Queen and the local jazz club Allary’s in downtown Providence. Many years later, he received a special key from the City of Providence from Mayor Buddy Cianci, and was inducted into the RI Music Hall of Fame and RI Heritage Hall of Fame.
In 1976, Mike moved to New York City to expand his music career. From the 1970s to the early 2000s, he appeared on many albums as a pianist and arranger. It was there that he began to serve as the music director of “Sesame Street”, a position he held for many seasons until his retirement.
Mike won 16 Emmy nominations for “Sesame Street” and the soap opera “All My Children”. He won seven Emmy Awards, one of which stood on his beloved Steinway. After retirement, Mike moved to Middletown, where he continued to share his priceless musical gifts.
Every Wednesday night, he is surrounded by fans he admires at Sardella’s in Newport. He also accompanied his old friends Dick Lupino and Dick Lupino trio to perform throughout the state. Recently, he played for an admiring audience with bassist Paul Del Niro and drummer Kwells at the Greenville Vineyard in Portsmouth.
“He is one of the most respected and talented musicians of this generation,” said Dick Robinson, founder of the Great Songbook Conservation Society of America.
He awarded Mike the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 in recognition of his passion for music. And promise. American Songbook. In his distinguished career, Mike has been the arranger and composer of many singers such as Peggy Lee, Mel Tomei and Lena Horn, Jack Jones, Lisa Minelli, Maureen McGovern and many other well-known singers.
Mike also accompanied Tony Bennett as a arranger and pianist on Mr. Bennett’s last world tour. His accompaniment with Lady GaGa’s CD “Cheek to Cheek” received special praise. He left a large family in both Rhode Island and Florida. He also left behind many loyal jazz enthusiasts from near and far, who were fortunate enough to be recipients of his unforgettable talent.