By Chris Hollenback Fans who yell "rip my face off" before the 2004 Madison Scouts' performances this year won't be disappointed. Caption head Scott Boerma's horn line was as powerful as it was in the mid-1990s this weekend during the corps' open house performance at the Promega Center just outside Madison, Wis. And if you want subtlety, you may be pleasantly surprised at the blend and musicality of this year's show, which includes "Sound Piece for Jazz Orchestra" by the legendary Oliver Nelson. The horn line and front percussion section mesh wonderfully in the ballad section. The brass players, relatively young last year, have matured. The corps delivered two concerts Saturday, one for the general public and another in full uniform for around 100 people who were attending an elegant fund-raiser for the corps. The latter event included performances by ensembles that included current and former Scouts. Guests bid on silent auction items. A New Era for the Scouts Drum Line Some fans have been leery about the new direction of the percussion section, now led by Colin McNutt (caption head) and Iain Moyer (front line arranger) of "Blast!" fame. The duo has also worked with Star of Indiana, Crossmen, Glassmen and Magic of Orlando. McNutt and Moyer have brought new rhythms and sounds to the table. The eight snares play challenging flam and paradiddle passages. The five tenors are already popping exposed rolls on the "spock" (smallest) drum. The percussion arrangements are perhaps as musical as the corps has ever had, shrewdly picking spots for impact and holding back when appropriate. The closer, "Malaga," gives the unit the fiery Latin edge it had back in 1995, when it blew fans' hair back like the guy in the Maxell logo. The stratospheric soprano soloists are back. A French horn solo and tambourine feature in the pit recall moments from the 1988 World Championship show. The rifle and flag lines performed to one song during the concerts. Spectators said they were very impressed by the full-corps performances. "To be this good this early is a testament to these kids' energy and integrity," said Michael Cesario, program coordinator, uniform designer and former DCI telecast color commentator. The corps' first show is this coming Friday in Appleton, Wis. The Scouts face off with Phantom Regiment and Colts right out of the gate.
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