Liner Notes for Pandemic Blues Album

Pandemic Blues

Who knew life could ever be like that? People used to take the beautiful life for granted until the pandemic struck. COVID-19 made people fearful and cautious – social distancing became a modus operandi for people. Pandemic Blues is truly an expression of that frustration of not being able to socialize liberally as people are suffocated literally and figuratively by it.


Social Distancing

The gypsy-inflected tune starts slow but quickly picks up pace with rapid movement of the fingers as though it is tracing the footsteps of the omnipresent social distancing ambassador. Stay one metre apart or forever being damned.



Cheryl was first introduced to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Zingaro by her cousin a few years ago. This modern bossa tune is a jazz standard which she has come to love over time for its pensive and contemplative quality. She decided to reharmonise it to give it new life, a nod to the fact that she and her cousin have been tightly-knit since they were five years old and have similar taste in music.



As a child, Cheryl had always been curious about what makes Chinese music Chinese. “Play all the black scales,” her father used to say. Playing the 5/4 meter is challenging and not easily done well but Cheryl rose to the challenge, having always wanted to play the pentatonic scale. Aside from being a dream come true, this is a reminder of Cheryl’s formative years playing music by ear.


Our Journey

Cheryl and her husband celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary this year so it is timely that they celebrate this marital milestone with this ballad. Her husband has been and still is very much a supportive soulmate and she is thankful to have been able to build their lives together with him. She has a lot to say but what better way to express it than through the gift of a song? Trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, tenor saxophonist Shawn Letts and Cheryl on piano have their solo improvisation moment in the song.


Fly With The Wind

This jazz standard by Cheryl’s hero McCoy Tyner is a difficult piece to play but she digs the energy, finding it extremely exciting as it builds up from cello play and then, in quick succession, the rest of the band falls into place. Cheryl’s good friend and cellist proves that the cello sound, while hard to improvise, can work well in jazz too.



The Spencer family connected over movie nights as they poured over classics such as Rocky, Three Amigos and The Godfather. The story of the Corleone family and its youngest son taking over the helm of the mafia empire left quite an impression so it was fitting for a tune from the movie to be included in the album. Cheryl’s son Charles on clarinet stars in this tune, too.



As an aural journey reflecting the zeitgeist, this album, Pandemic Blues, has gone from expressing concern and frustration in the beginning to having a great sense of hope about the future. It has a decidedly positive undertone; the rich harmony reflects a pensive state as one reflects on the past two years and Singapore moving from pandemic to an endemic state.


Moving On

Written with the drummer in mind, Moving On is a positive and resoundingly-energetic tune that keeps everyone in high spirits. Taking a leaf from cha cha, this piece of work is modern and a window into the world of Latino percussion music.



The album Pandemic Blues launched on 23rd December 2021 and is available on Spotify and Apple Music. A portion of proceeds from limited edition CDs will go to the Autism Association (Singapore), enabling them to support and serve individuals on the autism spectrum to maximise their potential, helping them lead meaningful and quality lives in society.