His name might not sound the part but Bob Laine was one of the first Swedish musicians to make it on the American jazz scene. He performed a solo act in the '30s at various New York City piano bars, among them the Stork Club and Nick's. Jazz bandleaders whose stock in trade was a conservative combination of swing and New Orleans jazz roots apparently liked to walk down this particular Laine when staffing a rhythm section. His work with the groups of violinist Joe Venuti, reedman Bud Freeman and trumpeter Wingy Manone is the earliest of his playing to have been documented on recordings.
Studio opportunities continued following the pianist's shift to the west coast in 1936. He spent three years in Ben Pollack's groups including the chewy-sounding Ben Pollack & His Pick-A-Rib Boys. A variety of sides were released under Pollack's name by the Decca firm, addressing the usual romantic appeals and threats -- "Cuddle Up a Little Closer," "Nobody's Gonna Take You from Me" -- as well as toying with exotica "Morocco," where listeners get to meet "The Snake Charmer." Laine served in the military from 1942; stateside, his activity in the '50s involved more vocal music than jazz. The pianist moved around between Los Angeles, Hawaii and Las Vegas, finding crooners and warblers looking for accompaniment. He also found time to check in on the Swedish jazz scene, establishing a combo with trumpeter Gosta Torner and clarinetist Stan Hasselgård that recorded fine versions of typical swing fare in the late '40s and early '50s.
Sweden's fire-breathing Dragon label is a good source for this era of material. One volume in a series examining the music of important Swedish saxophonist and bandleader Lars Gullin presents interesting material taped in 1953 when Gullin was playing his baritone saxophone in a quartet led by the pianist. Fruitless searches for obscure, out of print material involving this pianist can also be launched without involving foreign labels. One suggested trophy is the 1946 Jewel compilation of pianists, also featuring Joe Bushkin, that discographers don't even remember the title of anymore.