Jane Monheit follows her 2004 Sony debut, Taking a Chance on Love, with the Christmas album The Season. It's an inevitable release. Monheit's star has risen consistently -- she's one of the darlings (or saviors) of contemporary vocal jazz alongside artists like Madeleine Peyroux and Norah Jones -- so something as pretty and easily salable as The Season ensures even more name recognition. Which is just fine. Monheit's rich, if mannered delivery is perfect for the classics ("Sleighride," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"), and her interpretations of "I Love the Winter Weather/I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" (where Ella Fitzgerald's influence is strong) and the Carpenters ("Merry Christmas Darling") mix striking professionalism with a gentle, breathy swagger that's pretty endearing. Monheit worked with her usual quartet for The Season, though the arrangement for "Merry Christmas Darling" is filled out with a string section and the horns on "Man with a Bag" combine with Monheit's winsome, scatting vocal to really take it out of time. Is this 2005 or a classic Perry Como special? The Season is a nice holdover for Monheit, a chance to have some fun with some standards while keeping her name and wonderful voice top of mind.