The name AJ Lambert may not ring-a-ding-ding any bells when it comes to her family ties but Lambert is perfectly Frank about the fact that she is carrying on the legacy of her grandfather, the iconic Frank Sinatra, where her uncle, the late Frank Sinatra Jr., left off. However, as show-goers to The Space in Las Vegas will discover when she performs there on April 20 and once a month thereafter through November, the talented singer is uniquely doing it “her way.”
Noting that “everyone and their mother does a Frank Sinatra ring-a-ding tribute show,” Lambert, the daughter of late dancer/choreographer Hugh Lambert and singer/actress Nancy Sinatra, will be performing Sinatra’s entire 1955 album “In the Wee Small Hours,” acclaimed as one of the first concept albums. Accompanied only by John Boswell on piano, she will be singing the album top to bottom with all the original Nelson Riddle arrangements. In between songs, she will delve into stories depicting the Frank Sinatra she knew, the one that can’t be found in Wikipedia as she claims, as well as her relationship with him. Her show is also her way of having a conversation with her grandfather and to bounce things off of him via his music.
“I’m a 43-year-old woman from a punk music background and it felt disingenuous to me to do some of his songs,” Lambert explained. “For me to sing ‘Come Fly With Me,’ for example, would be cynical and bizarre. You can’t fake those songs. I want to bring the albums that were very personal to my grandfather to life. They are themes I can relate to. He curated ‘In the Wee Small Hours’ personally. It was about his relationship and breakup with Ava Gardner. It was followed by subsequent concept albums such as ‘Only the Lonely,’ which I will be alternating with “In the Wee Small Hours’ in my monthly shows. He had a soft spot for songs like that, what he called saloon songs.”
Lambert, who says that nothing like what she’s doing in her show has been done before, admitted that she feels like people have a notion of Sinatra, a surface impression of him. They view him as being sensitive, erratic, quick to fly off the handle, and moody, which is a word she says she hates. She resents it when her grandfather gets boiled down to womanizer, microphone, and fedora.
“He liked solitude sometimes and he was very reflective, a thinker,” she revealed. “He had a dark side but he was not volatile. He was very deep, loving, generous, funny and melancholy at times. He loved animals and would take in strays off the street and would sometimes have 10 to 12 in the house at once. He was a softie who loved to cook and paint. I hope that through my performances those things can be heard over the din of what everybody’s used to hearing about him.”
When it comes to seeing the other side of Frank Sinatra, in the wee small hours of the morning. AJ Lambert is a beacon of light.